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Weekly Devotionals

Loving Over Friendly

5 Better is open rebuke than hidden love. 6 Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses. – Proverbs 27:5-6 

I believe friendships are something special that God grants us in different shapes or forms in various seasons. Particularly in Korea, I feel many people connect simply under the fact that they are expats (those residing outside their native country) or they have lived outside of Korea for an extended period and still feel a deep connection to more of a Western/English-speaking culture. Beyond this, people make friends based on common interests or hobbies. Now, this week’s devotional is not about how to make friends but for us to consider our approach in being friends, especially with our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Based on the recent conversations and observations in my own life, I am challenged by how we may choose being friendly over loving others in our friendships. We are quick to share laughter and jokes but we are not so quick to love on them in terms of correcting or rebuking them. I believe we become afraid to “get real” or “be honest” with our friends based on how we imagine they may take our words. Perhaps this happens because we are afraid of losing our friendship, or it may be that you know the other party or yourself will leave in a year or two, so the trouble of having difficult conversations does not seem worth it. Another reason may be that you have never received an open loving rebuke and do not know how to do it or if it is even possible.

Whatever the reason, I believe we are called to be more direct and honest about things especially if God is convicting us to share with our friends when we believe whatever is in question may be hindering their personal relationship with God or with other people. Something to consider here is that in our preparation for the difficult conversations, we must ask the Lord to reveal whether we are simply being annoyed by the other person or if it is the Holy Spirit convicting us.

Whether this is an issue for you or not, I believe we can take away two things from this week’s passage. One is that open rebuke can and perhaps should be a part of friendship, for none of us are perfected fully yet and are all work in progress in a sense. In other words, we can use all the help we can get since we will all have areas where we can grow. Two, we also need to learn to receive correction and open loving rebuke. If we are not humble and vulnerable, I do not believe we can be at a place to receive. At times like this, I hope that we can look to our savior Jesus who has shown us that being humble does not mean weakness and that the process of refining is not so easy but we are to find comfort knowing that we are not alone in the process.