man holding hand over his mouth

by Rachel Harkins

Miss…you’re gonna hate me for saying this…”

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Those were the first words spoken to me by a complete stranger the other day, while standing in the dairy section at our local grocery store. As I looked up to see an older gentleman, I took one step back and braced myself for the words to follow. He then proceeded to inform me that I reminded him of Annie Oakley!! I stood there for a minute and listened to his further explanation – (it was my long, full, denim skirt that brought Annie Oakley to his mind) – while trying to think of an appropriate response. Being compared to a famous markswoman was the last thing I expected that day and the only reply I could come up with was….”thank you”. The girls got a big kick out of the incident and, needless to say, my husband thought the story was hilarious.

Apparently, that gentleman thought I would be offended by his words but he was willing to go ahead and take that risk in order to speak what was on his mind. This experience reminded me of the Apostle Paul’s words in Galatians 4:16“Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?”  Paul’s words to the church of Galatia were preceded by his admonition to them for embracing false doctrine. Because of his love for the Galatians, Paul was willing to tell them the truth…even though it could result in a severed relationship.

~ Telling the truth may sometimes risk a relationship. ~

It is not easy…not easy at all…when we find ourselves faced with this decision – either ignoring or even compromising to “save” a relationship; OR telling the truth and possibly “losing” that relationship.  But, tell me…what kind of a relationship do we really have if honesty is not at its foundation? The truth can hurt – it can hurt the one telling it as well as the one receiving it. Proverbs 27:6 says, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” This verse implies that truth can sometimes feel like “wounds”. What kind of friend would enjoy inflicting us? Yet, a true friend is willing to do so…even to the point of risking a friendship….because of the love they have for that individual. On the other hand, to ignore matters that really need to be confronted is not love at all. To “smile upon” a friend’s wrong direction is actually deceiving that friend. Is that love?

When faced with the difficult choice of speaking or remaining silent, we may need to ask ourselves – Do I love this person enough to not only inflict painful truth (in love, of course), but to experience pain as well? Even when said in love, the initial confrontation may indeed result in broken fellowship. But, down the road, it will often result in a “Thank you for loving me enough to tell me the truth.”

” He that rebuketh a man afterwards shall find more favour than he that flattereth with the tongue.” Proverbs 28:23

by Rachel Harkins