By DANNY MINTON
While I was attending college there was one boy, we’ll call him Joe, who pretty much everyone tried to avoid. He was a nice good looking kid but had difficulty keeping close friends. The problem was his feet. They smelled. Due to this problem, people didn’t like being around him both in class and socially.
It was a real concern to him that he did not seem to be able to keep friends for any length of time. He didn’t understand why because he always thought that he and other people hit it off at first. He was kind and friendly to everyone, always making a good first impression.
One day he was walking with one of the only close friends he had and begin to open up and voice his concerns that he felt like an outcast. “Joe,” his friend asked him, “do you mind if I tell you why people shy away from you?” Joe encouraged his classmate to be honest with him. “Well, I don’t want to hurt your feelings, but the reason people avoid you is that your feet stink.”
Joe hung his head and with his eyes filling with tears answered, “I know it. You see, it’s the shoes. This pair of sneakers is all that I have to wear. All my extra money goes to school and food.”
The solution was easy to fix. Joe’s friends chipped in and bought him a new pair of shoes and the problem was solved. Unfortunately, if someone had only gotten with him earlier, it would have been so much better for him and his relationships.
Sometimes we think we are kind by not talking to someone about things that need sharing. We don’t want to embarrass them or hurt their feelings. In most cases, it would be better for someone to be a little embarrassed than quietly suffering or being silently destroyed as an object of gossip.
Wouldn’t you rather have someone tell you that you have mustard on your cheek instead of walking into a crowded room looking that way? Wouldn’t you rather be embarrassed with one person telling you that your shoes don’t match instead of standing in front of the group and being quietly snickered at by the whole crowd? Stop and think what you would want your friend to do in situations like these. Our answer would probably be, “A true friend would have told me.”
True friendship has two aspects. One is watching and caring for those whom we call a friend. It’s letting them know things that are for their good. It’s being there for them. On the other had a true friendship allows our friends to talk to us frankly. It allows us to listen to them knowing that they have our good at heart.
An old Jewish proverb says, “A friend is one who warns you.”
Solomon wrote in Proverbs 27:6, “Wounds from a friend can be trusted.”
Both are saying that true friendship means we are willing to risk our friendship if it is for the good of our friend.
Better is open rebuke than hidden love.
Danny Minton is Pastoral Minister and Elder at Southern Hills Church of Christ