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Monday, September 20, 2010

No boot licking here!

23 In the end, serious reprimand is appreciated
   far more than bootlicking flattery. 
(Proverbs 28:23)

The last thing most of us want is any kind of reprimand - let alone a serious one.  On a scale of 1-10, most of us would say a reprimand ranks as a 1-3.  Not too many of us would even give it higher than a 5 because we really don't enjoy being reprimanded.  A reprimand is always associated with behavior that just did not measure up.  It carries with it the idea of rebuke or reproof.

A rebuke is often coupled with the admonition to change one's ways or endure the consequences.  To be reproved is to have your behavior corrected - to provide direction as to how we should be acting or responding.  Realizing that a reprimand carries with it the idea of both, how many of us would line up for a reprimand now?  

Having our behavior "pointed out" or "called out" is often quite uncomfortable for us.  We get very self-conscious - when this happens, we want to "preserve" as much face as possible.  So, we may become very skilled at trying to avoid the truth about our behavior!  Our writer points out that having friends that do nothing more than lavish us with boot licking flattery is pretty lame.  We call this "brown-nosing" today.  I won't elaborate on that one!

I have endured both - if I were to be honest, I'd also have to tell you that I have been the instigator of both, as well.  It is much easier to give a compliment and avoid conflict than it is to encounter a wrong behavior.  Flattery is really insincere speech of any kind - if we are not honest, we are probably engaging in a little flattery.

The difference between words of flattery and a reprimand is the result.  Flattery feeds my ego - a reprimand causes me to look at myself through the eyes of another.  A reprimand often exposes the unrealized results of my selfish behavior as it affects both my own walk, but also how it affects those around me.  We don't live on an island all by ourselves - so, what we do and say affects more than ourselves.

A faithful friend will bring both words of encouragement (not flattery) and words of rebuke/reproof as warranted.  Ever notice that it is much easier to accept encouragement or a rebuke from a friend?  When relationship is established, the words have a different level of "hitting home".  We may not appreciate a rebuke the first time we hear the words, but later, once we have had time to process them and the love with which they were spoken, we have a great appreciation for both the reprimand and the friend who brought it.

Let's be faithful in relationship to not only bring encouragement to each other, but to also add that element of "iron sharpening iron", as needed.  When we are committed within relationship, there is no room for boot licking flattery!