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Have I Become Your Enemy?

There is an old saying which says, "The truth hurts.”  Of course, not all truth hurts, but much of it does.  The truth that does hurt is that which exposes wrongdoing, reveals lies and liars, corrects misunderstanding, requires difficult changes, and challenges errant beliefs.  Truth of this nature is hurtful to receive, for it affects lives and changes relationships in ways that are often difficult to accept.  Truth of this nature is also hurtful to deliver for the same reasons.  No tender-hearted person enjoys causing difficulty and pain for others, and yet it is often necessary to do so for the sake of those who are affected.

Consider for yourself what kind of reception you have for truth that hurts.  Maybe you become angry, defensive, argumentative, pouty, self-pitying, or depressed.  Maybe you deny the hurtful truth, search for excuses, and refuse to apply the changes that it requires.  Maybe you attack the one who delivered the truth to you in an effort to discredit the message by discrediting the messenger.  On the other hand, maybe you gratefully receive the hurtful truth and pray that God will help you to accept it.  Maybe you thank the one who delivered the truth to you, and you thank God as well.  Whether you take it hard or easy, the truth is that the way in which you receive hurtful truth says much about you.

Notice a few Bible examples of some who did not receive the truth well.

  • When Cain learned the truth that God had rejected his inferior sacrifice, he became angry and murdered his brother Abel (Gen. 4:1-15).
  • When the prophet Micaiah told Ahab the truth of his impending defeat, Ahab had him imprisoned (1Ki. 22).
  • When John the baptist told Herod the truth of his adulterous marriage, Herod had him imprisoned and eventually murdered (Matt. 14:3-12).
  • When Jesus taught that He was the bread of heaven, many of His disciples could not accept this difficult truth, and they no longer walked with Him (John 6:6-66).
  • When the Galatian Christians turned against the apostle Paul for telling them the truth, he asked them, "So have I become your enemy by telling you the truth?” (Gal. 4:16).

Obviously, these who rejected the hurtful truth do not have a good legacy.  Certainly, we do not want to follow their examples.

Also, notice a few examples of some who were glad to receive the truth in spite of the initial hurt that it brought to them.

  • When Abraham heard the difficult truth that God required him to leave his relatives, he accepted it and obeyed it (Gen. 12).
  • When the prophet Nathan told King David the truth about his sin, David accepted it and sought God’s forgiveness (2Sam. 12:1-23; Ps. 32; 38; 51).
  • When Peter, Andrew, James, and John learned the truth about Jesus, they gave up their business of fishing and followed Him (Matt. 4:18-22).
  • When the believers in Ephesus learned the truth about the wickedness of pagan magic, they burned their magic books, which were worth a tremendous amount of money (Acts 19:19).
  • When Paul strongly rebuked the Corinthian Christians, they accepted the painful truth of his words and changed their ways (2Cor. 7:8-16).

If we accept the hurtful truth as well as these did, then we are doing well and keeping good company.

So then, are you willing to receive the truth, even the hurtful truth?  Do you count those who tell you the hurtful truth as your worst enemies or as your best friends?  Notice Proverbs 27:5-6 – "Better is open rebuke than love that is concealed.  Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.”  Do you recognize who your real friends are?

Moreover, are you willing to tell the truth, even the hurtful truth?  Certainly, you do not enjoy causing anyone distress, but it is more important to save them forever than to spare them from a temporary pain.  Hopefully, those with whom you share the truth of the gospel will recognize the blessings that you have brought to them in the image of Isaiah 52:7 - "How lovely on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who announces peace and brings good news of happiness, who announces salvation, and says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!’”  Even if they do not have this attitude, it is still necessary to tell them the truth.

"Buy truth, and do not sell it, get wisdom and instruction and understanding.” (Prov. 23:23)

Stacey E. Durham



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