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The Dishonesty of Withheld Truth is as damaging as an outright lie…

Proverbs 27 v 6 advises us that: “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful”.

What does this mean?

The wounds of a friend are faithful. A true friend may give advice, instruction, counsel or even just suggestions that are intended for their friend’s good. What a person does with that communication is up to them, but a true friend is not willing to withhold good counsel intended to protect their friend even if it is not received well.

Can you think of a situation when you have been the faithful friend whose words may have caused offence but were given out of love, concern, care and sincerity? Perhaps you advised a friend that the person they were getting in a relationship with had a bad reputation and that it would be better for them to steer clear. Maybe they thanked you for your input, or maybe they told you to get lost, to mind your own business, etc, but had you known what you did, to refuse to share that with your friend would have been cruel and irresponsible. You can speak the truth in love.

However, someone who couldn’t really care less if the relationship would end up being harmful might flatter you with ‘kisses’, i.e. tell you the things you want to hear, rather than telling you the truth. In the moment the enemy seems like more of a friend than your friend whose wounds are faithful. It can be easy to become blind sighted by our own desires, and what our itching ears want to hear.

Just as ‘iron sharpens iron’ so too does good, wise, discerning, loving, loyal and honest friendship mutually sharpen the characters of us and our friends.

However, sometimes a friend can be an enemy, without really setting out or intending to do so. A person may easily identify a lie as being ‘bad’, but they may make excuses for withholding the truth but that doesn’t make it any less of a lie or any less damaging.

If someone habitually withholds the truth from a friend, they are effectively lying to them and keeping things unconfessed, hidden and in darkness. A true friend may be clumsy with their words, but their intention comes from a place of love or at least kindness and respect, and you know that they will be honest with you. Covering things up or withholding truth is very sadly, and however unintentionally a form of deceit, verging on being cruel and selfish.

We are never in a place to judge other people’s motives, but we need to discern truth from error. Sometimes we learn the hard way that when the truth about a situation is withheld from us, or how a situation is perceived by someone is not shared with us, even if it is with the intention ‘not to offend’, then we are being denied honest and sincere communication. We are silently being lied to. If we have done something wrong, we will not be told about it, perhaps because our friend is not willing to ‘faithfully wound’ us for the sake of our own good and theirs. And under the surface, perhaps those who withhold the truth from another party allow bitterness to fester, and silently but very intentionally control the situation, perhaps by pushing us away, but without in the end showing honest and genuine love, care, concern or respect because they have chosen to with hold the truth.

Faithful are the wounds of a friend. We need to be intentional in walking in the light, of being honest and truthful and respectful, rather than withholding truth from people and silently punishing them for something they didn’t even know or weren’t given a chance to know was wrong.

Kind and lovely people can fall into this trap of being unfaithful because it in the short term it seems to cause less damage, discomfort, awkwardness or unease – but in the long run, withholding truth is just as damaging as an outright lie.

Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.

Let us seek never to be an enemy to our friends by withholding truth from them, especially if what we don’t tell them leads us to taking a course of action that will affect them negatively while withholding explanation. To do so would be to choose not to walk in the light because in the short term it feels more comfortable to take the easy path. The easy way is not always the best, so take time to ponder the path of your feet for your own good and the good of others. And to keep walking in the light, be quick to choose to forgive, to be understanding, respectful and loving, and to be the kind of person who you yourself can respect. x

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