Sent:  July 23, 2002

Subject:  Wounds or Kisses?

Good Morning Ethan & Emily:

I was doing a study on forgiveness this morning and I ran across an interesting passage from Proverbs 27:6:  “Wounds from a friend are better than many kisses from an enemy.”  I have always believed that true friendship can sometimes mean taking what can be unpleasant “stands” for what is right, but I had not remembered this verse until this morning…a verse which sums up this thought so well in just 12 “straight to the bottom line” words.

Paul applied the truth of Prov. 27:6 when he wrote letters to address problems and divisions among the Christians in Corinth, including sexual sin and immorality in the church body.  He was blunt and to the point in addressing the issues causing conflict and compromise (See 1 Corinthians 5).  Now in 2 Corinthians, Paul shares how difficult it was to personally address this and other serious sin matters among his Corinthians believer friends. 

He admits candidly in chapter 2, verse 4 about his first letter to them: “How painful it was to write that letter!  Heartbroken, I cried over it.  I didn’t want to hurt you, but I wanted you to know how very much I love you.”

The notes in the Life Application Bible concerning this verse and those that follow are excellent and give guidance for the proper administration of church discipline:  “Sometimes our friends make choices that we know are wrong.  If we ignore their behavior and let them continue in it, we won’t be showing love to them.  We show love by honestly sharing our concerns in order to help these friends be their very best for God.  When we don’t make any move to help, we show that we are more concerned about being well liked than about what will happen to them.”

v. 5:  Paul continues:  “I am not overstating it when I say that the man who caused all the trouble hurt your entire church more than he hurt me.  He was punished enough when most of you were united in your judgment against him.  Now it is time to forgive him and comfort him.”

Commentary from the Notes:  “Paul explained that it was time to forgive the man who had been punished by the church and had subsequently repented.  Church discipline should seek restoration.  Two mistakes in church discipline should be avoided:  being too lenient and not correcting mistakes, or being too harsh and not forgiving the sinner.   There is a time to confront and a time to comfort.”

Vv, 10-11:  “When you forgive this man, I forgive him, too.  And when I forgive him (for whatever is to be forgiven), I do so with Christ’s authority for your benefit, so that Satan will not outsmart us.”

Addressing verse 11, the commentary continues:  “We use church discipline to help keep the church pure and to help wayward people repent.  But Satan tries to harm the church by tempting it to use discipline in an unforgiving way.  This causes those exercising discipline to become proud of their purity, and it causes the person who is being disciplined to become bitter and perhaps leave the church.  We must remember that our purpose in discipline is to restore a person to the fellowship, not to destroy him or her.”

I couldn’t agree more with these comments.  Standing up to sin…especially when it involves a family member of a friend is very difficult…perhaps one of the hardest things we will ever have to do as a Christian…but it is THE “loving” thing to do…always!

Have a good day serving our wonderful Lord who uses everything to work for our good…that we might be “conformed to the image of His Son” (Romans 8:29).

Remember…there are times when “wounds” are better than “kisses.”

I love you,