A true friend will always hurt. Yes, always. And that’s just the surface of it.
Shock, realization, and pain—those three emotions surged through me as I heard the truth spoken right to my face.
And the truth hurts.
Paralyzed, I strained to listen as my mother and sister confronted me about how my selfish and haughty attitude had affected so many people around me and had taken over what I said, thought, and did. Deep down, somewhere within me, I knew they said these painful words because they cared, but that didn’t stop it from hurting.
Most of us might have heard of the “wounds of a friend” mentioned in Proverbs 27:6, which tells us, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful” (ESV). How does love play out in our relationships with our friends?
1. Love is not being nice.
2. Love is not attention-seeking.
3. Love is found in the truth.
Whoa… I just dished out three culture-clashing, unconventional statements… But let’s just take a step back and think about what they really mean.
Have you ever heard a story when the villain does something seemingly benevolent for someone else just to get something out of it? To me, the ideal example of such a diabolical villain is none other than Hans in Disney’s Frozen! Was he “nice” to Anna? Yes, just to turn around and use her trust in him to stab her in the back! This overly commercialized movie illustrates one crucial point: we can do something nice without feeling any love for whomever we’re doing it for. We live in a culture that thinks being nice is love. Many times this causes people to misinterpret actions, categorizing people who do nice things for their own benefit (kisses of an enemy) as loving and accepting, and people who don't constantly flatter others but genuinely share the truth and advice (wounds of a friend) as judgmental or harsh. Confusing world, right? If so many people are faking it and trying to put on a nice façade, then what is showing true love?
When we love, we desire God’s will for the other person, not for us to gain acceptance. Even if others don’t notice how much we care, we’re okay with it because loving isn’t about showing others what nice and good friends we are, but love is the result of a changed heart that has truly experienced God’s love. If we really understand the love and righteousness of God in the Gospel, we will automatically express this love to others because it is already a part of us.
Returning to the subject of being nice, it might be considered nice to let someone have what they’ve always wanted, but is that always the most loving thing? What if a friend or family member wants to date someone whom you know will just lead him or her downhill? Are we going to go along with Hollywood and say, “follow your heart?”
John 8:32 says, “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (ESV). Don’t you want your friends to be free? Free from the bondage of the world’s lies and their misconceptions? We should make it clear to them that we are telling them the truth because we truly care about them. Remain humble and listen to their side of the story. But so many times we find it extremely hard to tell our friends the truth, and we think we can’t bring ourselves to tell them because we love that friend too much! Wait. Let’s examine our hearts. Is what we’re really afraid of how much our friend’s reaction might hurt us? We humans really have a knack sometimes for disguising selfish feelings as “good intentions.”
Whatever the case, remember this: all our actions should point others to God and His amazing love because no matter how much we try to love, the only person who can love perfectly is God.
So, let’s put away that façade. It’s hard. It hurts.
But it’s worth-it to be real.
Eunice Tan (15) is on staff at TPS Chapel and studies at TPS