To Rebuke is to Love – Proverbs 27:5-6

Proverbs 27:5-6 spoke to me:

Better is open rebuke
than hidden love.

Wounds from a friend can be trusted,
but an enemy multiplies kisses.

In our politically correct society, people often say to only speak kind words to one another, and to never criticize each other. However here in Proverbs, Solomon, who was granted wisdom by God, says something entirely different. Those of us who were reared during the times of “tough love,” or when punishment was given for wrongdoings, can better understand Solomon’s intent with these passages than those who have been raised in different times.

“Open rebuke” in verse 5 is best defined as when someone provides honest criticism, or disapproval of the action of another. For example, historically one of my failings was the common use of vulgarity, because I spent a great deal of my life in a culture where that behavior was considered normal and accepted. While I have always believed in God, I never considered the use of “colorful metaphors” to be against God, until someone recommended that I research our Bible more deeply to see if perhaps there might be something contrary to my belief. So several years ago I did just that, and found that in the Book of Proverbs, our current reading assignment, there are 25 verse referencing our “mouth” in one form or another. Indeed Jesus himself said: “What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.” Therefore the person who loved me enough to rebuke me, helped guide me closer to the path of righteousness!

This brings us to verse 6, which may not be as direct, or clearly understood as verse 5. Essentially what Solomon is saying here is that there is value in reproof. Let’s re-examine the verse again:

Wounds from a friend can be trusted,
but an enemy multiplies kisses.

Here “wounds from a friend” is referencing where someone loves you enough to correct you when you perform an action that is against the intent of God. Perhaps he could have stated it better something like this “A friend who corrects you out of love can be trusted.” If someone truly loved you, would they ignore your sins, or would they try to guide you back to the path of righteousness?

An “enemy multiplies kisses” is more obvious. This is something I have found over the years to be common among churches around the country. People will freely gossip behind your back, yet speak praise in front of you. This was one of Jesus’ pet peeves as is demonstrated throughout scripture.

One might round up the thoughts of Solomon in this manner: True friends understand that all are sinners, and attempt to keep one another on the path of righteousness, so that we all may celebrate His Glory together in the Eternal Kingdom!

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