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October 14, 2022

Wounds of a Friend

Confrontation is never easy. But if I see my brother stumble, and I fail to come to his side, am I really showing Christian love?

“You’re talking down to Lynne!” An awkward silence followed. No one likes being called out for sinful behavior, especially when you’ve been a Christian since 1976 (I’m carbon-dating myself here — that’s what you do with fossils). Roger (my twin brother) had come to Houston to get a second opinion on prostate cancer treatment. He took advantage of a brief window where it was just the two of us to lovingly confront me. My mind was racing, attempting to justify my actions, knowing in my heart that there was no justification. I had to swallow my pride and thank him for bringing it to my attention. Later I asked Lynne for forgiveness and told her to challenge me if I ever did that again.

Proverbs tells us, “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the heart” (21:2, ESV). Some weeks ago, my men’s group was challenged to identify our fatal flaw. It’s a “fatal flaw” because we never see it, and it takes someone else pointing it out to us. That’s because “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). The King James says, “Who can know it?” That’s why God calls us to fellowship with other godly men. We are stronger together than alone.

In the movie “Gladiator,” Maximus (Russell Crowe) called the gladiators to stand together when they entered the Coliseum. A few didn’t listen and were easily picked off. The rest quickly learned the value of standing together. Men standing shoulder to shoulder, shields locked together, can stand against any spiritual assault of the enemy.

That’s how it should be with us because our fatal flaw is a blind side that the adversary of our soul will seek to exploit. Satan would love to drive a wedge in our marriages and undermine our testimonies to those who know us. Scripture tells us to “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15), and because my brother is also my spiritual brother, he lovingly confronted me. “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends” (I Corinthians 13:4-8). The King James says that “love never fails.” I would qualify that by saying God’s love never fails, and when we are walking in the realm of the Spirit, it is God’s love working through us.

My brother loved me enough to confront me on my sin (let’s be honest, that’s what it was). Proverbs gives some insight into this matter: “Faithful are the wounds of a friend” (27:6). “Whoever rebukes a man will afterward find more favor than he who flatters with his tongue” (28:23). Humility is a prerequisite on both sides of the exchange. In our church, fighting for relationship is an important principle, one sadly missing in the broader Church today.

Confrontation is never easy. Most of the time I’d avoid it if I could. But if I see my brother stumble, and I fail to come to his side, am I really showing Christian love? When I asked Lynne what my fatal flaw was, she wasn’t sure where to start. She wanted to “think about it,” meaning she wasn’t sure if I really wanted to hear the answer (it’s not like there was only “one” flaw). I’m to blame for that. Humility and transparency are required if true Christian brotherhood is to be effective.

Even Jesus wanted His three closest disciples — Peter, James, and John — to watch with Him in prayer at Gethsemane. They failed Him miserably. Jesus had told them that “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41). I don’t want to fail my brothers, nor do I want them to fail me. I hate seeing the destruction that Satan has brought into the midst of the Church. Through our obedience, we can watch God destroy the works of the enemy. What say ye, Man of Valor?

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