Recently, while traveling in South Africa, I saw a hand-painted placard with what was apparently an African proverb on it. The message read, “It is better to be slapped with the truth than to be kissed with a lie.” As the words sunk in, I was captivated by its profound message. I work from the premise that all truth is God’s truth, whether it is found on a hand-painted sign or in scripture. As I reflected on this truism, I thought it sounded much like one of Solomon’s proverbs. I went to Scripture and this is what I found:
Proverbs 27:6: “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” (NKJV)
Proverbs 28:23: “Whoever rebukes a man will afterward find more favor than he who flatters with his tongue.” (ESV)
Ecclesiastes 7:5: “It is better to be criticized by a wise person than to be praised by a fool.” (NCV)
Proverbs 26:28: “A lying tongue hates its victims, and a flattering mouth works ruin.” (KJV)
Proverbs 12:19: “ The lip of truth shall be established forever: but a lying tongue is but for a moment.” (KJV)
Proverbs 12:22: “ Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord: but they that deal truly are His delight.” (KJV)
The gem of truth in the proverb raised a question or two in my mind. How do we react when someone confronts us with a truth that is not very flattering? Would we rather be flattered and sweet-talked, to our detriment, than to be reprimanded in love? Do we really want fellow believers to “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15) to us? I have challenged myself, and I challenge you to be conscious of this proverb.
Let me share a final thought that relates to the proverb. The Gospel of Mark records a moving account of Judas’ betrayal of Jesus. Mark 14:45 says, “And as soon as he (Judas) was come, he goeth straightway to Him, and saith, Master, Master; and kissed Him” (KJV). Jesus was betrayed by a kiss from one whom He then called “friend” (Matthew 26:50). We need to understand that when we live in such a way as to dishonor Him and still try to maintain the appearance of being His friend, we kiss Him with a lie.
Prayer: Lord, please let me be open to correction and reproof. Whether it comes from Scripture, the inner stirring of the Holy Spirit, or a family member or friend, let me receive it graciously. “Create in me a clean heart, O God ; and renew a right spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10)
~ Brother Roy