Friend or Foe?
Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy. Proverbs 27:6
Can you tell the difference between a true friend and a false one? So many people cannot.
Paul made friends with the people who lived in the region of Galatia. He loved them ... and they loved him back. He told them about Jesus and led them to faith in Christ. It was wonderful, at least for a little while.
But then Paul left that region to preach the gospel elsewhere. When he was gone, false teachers came in behind him and swept the Galatians off their feet with their smooth sounding rhetoric, persuasive arguments and “kisses of an enemy.” They deceived these new believers with heresy and caused them to turn on Paul, their spiritual father in the faith.
Paul was hurt, angry and incredulous. He wondered how they could so quickly turn away from Jesus and the gospel of grace. He wondered how they could so quickly see him as a foe. He said, “Have I become your enemy by telling you the truth?” (Galatians 4:16).
Is it right to view a truth-teller as an enemy? Certainly not. Truth-tellers are true friends.
LIE TO ME?
In our world today, many people would prefer to hear lies rather than the truth. The people in Isaiah’s day didn't want to hear Isaiah preach the truth. They didn't want to hear that they were sinning and needed to get right with Holy God before judgment fell. They told Isaiah, “You must not prophesy to us what is right, speak to us pleasant words, prophesy illusions” (Isaiah 30:10). They wanted to have their ears tickled and hear sweet-sounding myths rather than the truth (2 Timothy 4:3-4). They wanted to hear how wonderful they were ... how much God loved them and how lucky He was to have them even give Him the time of day. How twisted is that!?
What about you? Would you rather hear the truth or hear lies?
Here is the problem with a “lie to me” mentality: It may feel good for a moment—like a kiss—but it is deadly in the long run. Those who live choosing to believe lies end up forfeiting earthly blessings and eternal rewards. The cost of the kiss is just too great.
To be sure, the truth often hurts. But the truth is SO NECESSARY. It is a faithful wound. It sets a person free.
When I was in seventh grade, I had hernia surgery. I went into surgery looking perfectly healthy, even though I was not. I came out of surgery with a scar and abdominal pain. I was wounded ... but it was a faithful wound that led to the wonderful blessing of long-term health and all the benefits that go along with that.
Think of salvation. The devil’s kiss tells us we are fine as we are. There is no need to repent and be born again. But that is a palatable lie that will send a person to hell forever. What is the unpalatable truth?
You and I are rotten sinners unable to save ourselves and in desperate need of a Savior. (Most people don't want to hear that!) But, if we don't see our true condition, we will never cry out to Jesus in repentance and faith. We will miss out on a relationship with God and be separated from Him for all eternity UNLESS WE FIRST BELIEVE AND RECEIVE THE FAITHFUL WOUND.
Let me encourage you as I encourage myself ... walk in the light. Ask God to search your heart on a regular basis and reveal to you any darkness that might be accumulating there—pride, bitterness, jealousy, greed, idolatry, dishonesty or lust. Spend time each day listening to the truth of God's Word. And make sure you have people in your life who are true friends, folks who will love you enough to tell you the truth and provide faithful wounds.
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Defeat Your Fear with Faith!
For your gift of any amount this month, we want to send you a copy of Pastor Jeff's powerful booklet, When Fear Meets Faith. Don't be defeated by the fears that plague you. Overcome them with the power of the Holy Spirit.
Jeff Schreve is Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church in Texarkana, Texas. He and his wife Debbie have been married for over 20 years and are blessed with three wonderful girls. Jeff began From His Heart Ministries, a radio and television ministry, in January of 2005. This ministry is completely listener/viewer supported. It continues only through the faithful and generous gifts of people like you. Pastor Jeff takes no salary from this ministry. All gifts go to further the broadcast.