When My Best Friend Told Me Off

Written By Debra Ayis, Nigeria

I remember the day vividly. I was sitting in my brother’s room, cooling off after an argument with my best friend. I’ll never forget what my best friend said to me. She certainly hadn’t spared my feelings: the gist of her words had to do with me acting like a spoilt, selfish brat.

I was smarting badly and my first thought was to exact revenge in some way, or to just ignore what she had just said. But, like in several other times in the past, I took deep breaths to calm down, evaluated what she said, and reminded myself of this Bible verse: “Better is open rebuke than hidden love. And the wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses” (Proverbs 27:5-6).

Even though I was upset with the way my friend had delivered her opinion, I knew her words had some truth in them. So I swallowed my pride and took the initiative to greet her when she walked past my brother’s bedroom to the adjacent room we shared. You see, my best friend was—and still is—my sister.

My attempt at reconciliation stopped my sister mid-stride. She redirected her steps and walked towards me. What she said next struck me—till this day. She said: “I admire you for one great quality you have. No matter what and how someone points out something wrong about you, and no matter how you act in the heat of the moment, you always listen, sift through the words and accept correction. You are also always willing and often the first to make peace and reconcile after a fight. Those are godly character traits you should never lose.”

She may not know how much those words impacted me that day, but what she said to me then always comes to mind whenever I find myself in a situation where a friend or even an enemy rebukes or criticizes me. Whenever someone finds fault with my behavior, I will retreat to a quiet place and ask for the Holy Spirit’s counsel, comfort, and advice.

Sometimes, verses will spring to mind, pointing to the fact that I do indeed need to accept correction. Other times, it becomes clear that the rebuke or criticism—though well intentioned—was unfounded. For instance, Job’s friends believed they were giving righteous criticism of their friend Job, only to be rebuked by God in Job 42:7-17. Therefore, I will always go to God to check if the rebuke is indeed from Him.

As a leader, writer, but most importantly, as a Christian, I have grown to embrace rebuke and criticism. Constructive criticism—and sometimes, not so constructive criticism from true friends—helps us grow and keeps us on the right track. I also believe it is essential if we want to become better individuals in all areas of our lives. After all, the Bible states in Psalm 141:5: “Let a righteous man strike me—that is a kindness; let him rebuke me—that is oil on my head. My head will not refuse it”.

True friends will call us out; they won’t always be our cheerleaders. A person who really loves us and wants the best for us will let us know when we are taking the wrong path, because they want what’s best for us.

In my walk as a Christian, I have been blessed to have instances where I have been rebuked by genuine friends, whom the Bible describes as those who stick closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24). Ultimately, I believe that rebuke from God—whether it is through His word or others, such as our friends—should be welcomed and celebrated. In Revelation 3:19, the Bible states that “as many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent”.

Will we be willing to be pruned so that we bear the best fruit?

ODJ: Conquering Criticism

April 9, 2016 

READ: Mark 2:23-28 

Look, why are they breaking the law by harvesting grain on the Sabbath? (v.24). 

During the closing seconds of an American football game, the referee had to make a very difficult, game— deciding call. His decision resulted in one team winning and the other facing the bitter sting of a loss. Furious fans from the losing team ridiculed and threatened the ref for days and weeks. In time he experienced panic attacks and even considered suicide. Doctors diagnosed his condition as post—traumatic stress disorder.

Some of us can relate to this much—maligned referee. We live with a sense of defeat, fueled by the harsh disapproval of others. Thankfully, we can rely on Jesus to help us conquer the power of negative criticism.

Jesus defended His disciples when the Pharisees criticized their behavior. One Sabbath, Jesus’ disciples ate some heads of grain they had found growing in a grain field. The Pharisees asked Jesus, “Look, why are they breaking the law by harvesting grain on the Sabbath?” (Mark 2:24). Jesus said, “The Sabbath was made to meet the needs of the people, and not people to meet the requirements of the Sabbath” (v.27).

On another occasion, He defended a woman who had been involved in adultery. The Pharisees paraded her sin openly, wanting to know if they should stone her. Jesus ended their antics by saying, “Let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” (John 8:7). The accusers all walked away.

No matter what type of criticism we may face, Jesus never joins in with people who fling careless or calculated remarks. He always stands up for us—even when we wrestle with sin (1 John 2:1). Jesus cares for us and wants to help us, and His love doesn’t depend on a perfect performance of the Christian life.

—Jennifer Benson Schuldt

365-day-plan: 2 Samuel 15:1-37

Read Galatians 2:11—13 to see how fear of criticism created a problem for Peter. Look up Romans 14:3 to see the root of condemnation for some in the early church. 
Is all criticism destructive? What happens when someone lovingly points out a shortcoming? Read Proverbs 15:31 for some insight on this topic. 

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