It was my first semester of my senior year. I was sitting in chapel and thinking of all the things I needed to get done that week. We had a big project due in one of my classes and I was working on my senior paper project with a looming deadline. I was already behind as I had spent several days attending interviews trying to place a job after graduation. The
chaplain announced that our guest speaker would be on campus that evening and so they decided to cancel all campus activities and require the entire student body to attend a mandatory chapel that night. I was furious. I needed that time for assignments, papers and projects and now, with almost no warning, my evening had just been significantly altered. I mumbled complaint to my friend and I don't think I will ever forget his words. "Chris, I don't think your attitude is right on this. You need to work on your priorities." He was so right. I had allowed the busyness of life and my schedule to dictate my attitude. Here was an opportunity for a Mary versus a Martha moment and I had definitely chosen the Martha route. My friend's words convicted me and I knew I needed to ask for forgiveness, not only from my friend, but also from God.
Proverbs 27:17 declares, "As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend." I am so thankful I had a friend who was willing to do this. In today's world, we often are afraid to speak up in a loving way when we see someone who is not making the best choices. Yet, a true friend wants better for us and will do what is necessary to improve our walk.
Proverbs 25:11-12 yields a great comparison, "A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver. Like an earring of gold and an ornament of fine gold is a wise rebuke to an obedient ear." Thankfully, on this occasion I demonstrated an obedient ear. I can't say that has always been the case. But that evening I am so glad I altered my attitude. I came away refreshed and encouraged from that chapel service. Had I not heeded my friend's counsel, I probably would have missed the message as I sat fuming at the mandatory attendance. Instead I was able to truly hear and walk away better than when I came.
Do you have someone in your life that can speak truth and will it be received with an obedient ear? Conversely, are you willing to do that for your friends? This should always be done with prayer, love and humility, but the uncomfortableness will lead to a stronger relationship and deeper trust. Before speaking into your friend's life, heed the words of Jesus from Matthew 7:3-5, "And why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me remove the speck from your eye'; and look a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye." It's from a place of humility that we should speak.
I encourage you to find that kind of a friend - one who will sharpen you and speak God's Word into your life. Also consider your current friendships. Can you be that for others? It will not always be easy to hear or to speak, but you will be stronger in your walk with Christ and hopefully, so will they.