Would you rather be slapped or kissed? That is not a trick question. It is a question about what type of relationships do you want? Do you want people who actually care about you? Or do you want people in your life who are seemingly nice but really do not care about you and are only in it for what they can get? We need to ask ourselves, what kind of person are we? Do we genuinely care for others? Or are we just nice to people for the purpose of what we can get from them? Are our compliments genuine and sincere or are they filled with flattery for the purpose of manipulation? Sometimes the people who feel and sound safe are actually not. Sometimes the people who rub us the wrong way are actually better for us than the feel good flatterer who is really lying to us to try to manipulate us. Remember iron sharpens iron but never without friction. We need more friction and less flattery if we want to be sharp and on point.
“Let the righteous strike me; It shall be a kindness. And let him rebuke me; It shall be as excellent oil; Let my head not refuse it. For still my prayer is against the deeds of the wicked.” (Psalms 141:5 NKJV)
David is welcoming the correction of the righteous. I would rather be slapped by the righteous than stroked by the self seeking. What about you? Do you want real relationships where people love you enough to be honest with you? Learning to respond to correction is essential for our personal growth. People who can’t hear correction position themselves for deception. Someone who is humble has the ability to hear hard things that others would want to avoid, deny or make excuses about.
“Open rebuke is better than love carefully concealed. Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” (Proverbs 27:5-6 NKJV)
Open rebuke is more beneficial than a deceitful kiss. It’s better to be slapped or wounded by a friend than kissed by an enemy. We need to have courage to develop relationships where there is enough trust for us to be honest. It’s possible to be honest and honorable. The goal is to be able to slap someone with truth and it feel like kindness to them.
To be a trustworthy person and an effective leader we must be good under pressure. That means we need to have a pressure relief valve. Praying to God through Jesus Christ and talking with a trusted friend are safe ways to relieve pressure without self-medicating in a destructive way.
Casting our cares on the Lord and confessing our faults to a friend are essential for our spiritual, emotional and physical health.
If we don’t learn to do this consistently we won’t know how to handle pressure properly. Broken people can’t handle pressure; they either blow up or break down. Getting healed and getting healthy is essential if we are going to handle the very real pressures of this life. Below are two short parables to illustrate that often the value of something is determined by how much pressure that something can handle.
In Haiti there are several animals that are used for work and transportation. We will focus on 3 of them: the horse, the donkey and the mule. The horse is a horse. The donkey is a donkey. And the mule is a hybrid between the horse and the donkey. The horse is the best looking and the fastest. The donkey is the smallest and the slowest. The mule is the best of both worlds. We are truly stronger together. The mule can carry the heaviest load. If you go to the market to buy one which one do you think is the most expensive? The horse? Because it’s the fastest and best looking? No! The mule is the most expensive because it can handle the most pressure.
In the world of watches Rolex makes a Submariner and a Deep Sea, Sea Dweller. They are almost the same watch. The Submariner is smaller and skinnier. Its face is 40mm. The Deep Sea, Sea Dweller is a bit bigger and a bit thicker and its face is 44mm. The Sea Dweller also has a helium escape valve which can relieve it of pressure if need be. The Sea Dweller has been deeper in the Marina Trench than any other watch ever. Meaning although it is similar and it has the same maker, it can handle more pressure. There is more than a $4000 USD difference in price simply because one can handle more pressure.
Trustworthy people are healed, Trustworthy people are healthy. Therefore trustworthy people are good under pressure. God allows pressure to be put on us to do something in us. Be honest with God and transparent with people and you will become a trustworthy person who is good under pressure.
I really like Twitter. I get most of my news from Twitter. For me twitter is more of a place of inspiration, while Facebook can often be a place of frustration. What I mean by that is there are much less long conversations or aggressive debates on Twitter, at least for me. To be honest it is a bit of a different crowd. Believe it or not twitter has changed my life for the better. As most know Twitter only allows you 140 characters when you post. This restriction has caused me to ask my self many times, “what am I really trying to say?” We live in a generation that is not interested in everything you or I want to say. They just want to know, “what are we really trying to say?” The bottom line, the real message. Political correctness is out of style. It is possible to honor people and still be honest with them. People will respect you more if you are honest with them. If you are dishonest with people they will not trust you and you can not influence them. When you write or speak be honest and be direct. Show people that you value them enough to be honest with them. To watch the video blog of 140 characters click here.
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There is a reason why a high percentage of American’s are lonely. The National Science Foundation reported in its General Social Survey that unprecedented numbers of American’s are lonely. One study based on 1500 face to face interviews found that more than a quarter of the respondents had no one with whom they could talk about their personal troubles or triumphs. If family members are not counted, the number doubles to more than half of Americans who have no one outside their immediate family with whom they can share confidences. Why is this so? The answer to that question is no doubt a multi-layered one, one which would by itself occupy many articles and research data. But I want to make a simple observation from my own experience. Relationships are difficult, and generally speaking those relationships which can handle the weight of the deeper discussions of life are the most difficult of all.
Yet it is this very business of relationships to which the follower of Jesus is persuasively called upon to give their most serious attention. Peter speaks to this in 1 Peter 1:22: “Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart.” Pay attention to the weightiness of Peter’s words “sincere love for each other, deeply from the heart.” When I read those words I find them staggering because it describes a quality of relationship that seems so rare, and if the Social Survey mentioned in the first paragraph is true it is rare for most of the adult population of the U.S. And I suspect it is also rare among Christian people.It is the challenge of trust, vulnerability and the necessary persistence over time which close friendship requires that makes it a work which many of us simply will not carve out sufficient time to make a reality. Os Guinness notes “Life fired at us point blank becomes the survival of the fastest. As a Kenyan saying goes, “Westerners have watches, Africans have time.” This is one of the great temptations of our era the temptation to yield to the notion that there simply isn’t enough time to build these kinds of relationships. And it is not only the appearance that sufficient time isn’t available to take our relationships deeper but there are numerous issues which close quarter relationships inevitably bring us face to face with conflict, and the need to communicate about these inevitable frictions that emerge when we seek close friendship with one another. It’s much easier to simply keep your distance. Let things remain superficial and lighthearted.
Yet scripture makes clear that there is something critical to our spiritual growth which is tied to our relationships, “as iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17) In the economy of God, the challenges which occur in our relationships are essential to brining about growth in our character and the quality of our love growth which comes only in this way. It is therefore no exaggeration to say from the vantage point of Scripture that the quality of life in which we must grow is precisely in the area of relationships. According to John’s recollections it was among the last things Jesus said before he was arrested and then executed: John 13:34-35 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
This is one of the reasons why Christianity doesn’t have much appeal to lonely Americans, hungry for friendship. For when Westerners think about depth, Christianity is too often not the place where searching people turn for that substance. Yet, one of the most common images of the church in the New Testament is family, as though God intended for those who might have suffered with poor family life an opportunity to recapitulate the family experience with brothers and sisters who sincerely and from the depths of their hearts love one another. Could this have been what Jesus had in mind when he made love a cornerstone of what was to characterize his movement? A movement of friendships rooted in the Divine friendship?
By : Scott Pursley
Scott Pursley is a Psychologist and the Lead Pastor of Christ Fellowship in Cranford, NJ. Click here to visit the website of Christ Fellowship.