“Open rebuke is better than secret love.”
When I was a student at Pacific Life Bible College (I graduated in 1999, so this was a while back!), I learned an important statistic that I have never forgotten. Seven out of ten leaders – men and women called by God to the ministry – will fail. They will either leave the ministry because of moral failure and are disqualified, or they will give up because they are burned out or discouraged. Do you know what the three out of ten leaders that finished well had in common? Only one thing: accountability relationships with another Christian.
What is accountability? The dictionary defines it as to be “responsible to someone or for some action; answerable.” In other words, God wants us to be responsible for one another, to help each other to grow in the Lord! When Solomon says that an open rebuke is better than hidden love, it means that sometimes in our friendships, we need to challenge our friends, when we see them getting off track or into something that we know is dangerous. These wounds from a friend may hurt, but the ultimate result is to help them to grow. It’s like iron sharpening iron – we challenge each other to be the best that we can be.
I’ve said many times before that there are no Lone Rangers in the Body of Christ. I remember watching re-runs of that old western TV show when I was a kid, the story of a masked Texas Ranger who fought injustice in the Wild West. (Actually, they have recently made a movie version of this story starring Johnny Depp, though I haven’t seen it yet).
Ironically, even though his name was the Lone Ranger, he still had a trusty side-kick, a Native American named Tonto. Batman had Robin. Frodo had Samwise. Robin Hood had his merry men. And Jesus sent His disciples out two by two for a very good reason. You must not go through life alone! “Two are better than one, Because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, For he has no one to help him up.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10).
Lord, give us the courage to be open and honest in our relationships, and allow people to speak correction into our lives. Help us to realize that we need one another if we are going to finish well! And give us the courage to speak the truth in love, and openly rebuke our friends when that might be necessary. In Jesus’ name, amen!