Recently I was praying for some people and the Lord spoke very clearly to about them. He said, “they are holding something against you. But it’s ok. You’ve done nothing wrong and I’ll reveal that to them.”
It was honestly a very strange encounter with the Lord. I don’t take every thought that runs through my head as something the Lord is telling me. But I’ve learned that if it lingers and comes up three times it’s the Lord.
Why three, you ask? Three is a significant number for God. He called Samuel three times before Samuel realized it was the Lord. Jesus tells Peter to “feed my sheep” three times. And, of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the Trinity, God as three in one.
Waiting to hear it three times also gives me time to confirm it is the Lord and not just my own deceitful heart getting in the way!
I ended up hearing this three times. Twice from the Lord when I prayed for these people on two different occasions and once from a friend, who not only said a similar thing but actually clarified it for me through the story she told me.
It got me thinking about friends. I mean, true friends, faithful friends. The reason it did is because these people have never come to me to talk about whatever it is they are harboring against me. And, because I know I’ve done nothing wrong, I am also sure it all could have been resolved quickly and painlessly with a quick conversation. Instead they are only hurting their own hearts by harboring it and not talking about it.
If you know me at all, you know I’m a pretty confident, straightforward person. I say what I mean and I mean what I say. This probably comes across brusque and harsh at times and I’m genuinely trying to soften my responses. But if you do know me at all, you know I am willing to have any conversation that needs to be had. I’m willing to listen and apologize too. Maybe I come across as unapproachable. I don’t know. I do know people used to say that about my mom and I’d always think, weird, you must not know her at all. But as I’ve grown older I see myself turning into her! 🙂
So I went to God’s Word to see what He says of a true friend, because I don’t think a true friend wouldn’t be willing to come talk to me. Here’s what I found.
Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.
Proverbs 27:6 ESV
Wouldn’t you want the wounds of a faithful friend? I would. I tell my friends all the time, please tell me if I’ve hurt you. Tell me if my kids have hurt your kids. Tell me if something I’ve said is confusing or hurtful.
Years ago I had said something to a friend intending to be helpful. It came across as offensive to her but I didn’t realize it. For a couple weeks I noticed a coldness from her but I wasn’t quite sure if I was just being insecure or if there really was something. She came to me one day and said, “can we talk?” She told me about what I’d said and how it had hurt her. I had the chance to apologize and ask her forgiveness and I got the chance to learn how my words come across. Now she’s my dearest friend and I appreciate so much that we can be totally honest with each other. That’s a wound from a faithful friend!
Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.
Proverbs 27:17 ESV
He who withholds kindness from a friend forsakes the fear of the Almighty.
Job 6:14 ESV
Kindness isn’t niceness. Think about that, especially if you are Minnesotan. Kindness isn’t niceness. Kindness is encouraging one another but it is also saying the hard things sometimes. It’s having those conversations that make your heart beat fast and your voice shake. It’s saying, in love, I need to talk to you about something hard. It isn’t pretending everything is OK when it’s not.
We Minnesotans are really good at nice. But we’re also really good at passive-aggressiveness. Pretending everything is fine and then grumbling and harboring things after the fact. That’s not kindness, not the kindness God calls us to. Iron sharpening iron can be painful. But wouldn’t you want your rough edges smoothed away by a true and faithful friend? Because, let’s face it. We all have rough edges. And, if we’re Christians, the Holy Spirit is going to prompt us to want those rough edges removed.
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
Philippians 1:6 ESV
That good work that He started in you? You know, that one, where He’s constantly refining you, smoothing your rough edges, and molding you into something beautiful? That one is done through His love, His Word, His Holy Spirit, and sometimes through His people whom you call friends.
In the midst of this season, I’ve been so thankful for friends who have been faithful, loving, loyal, and true. I’m thankful for friends who are kind, not nice, who are iron smoothing my rough edges, and who don’t harbor anything against me. I’m also thankful to my God for never leaving me where I’m at but always gently and lovingly pushing me along.