“He that rebuketh a man afterwards shall find more favour than he that flattereth with the tongue.” (KJV).
One of my favourite books is one called The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. In this book, he talks about how people give and receive love in five main different ways: Words of affirmation, Acts of service, Receiving gifts, Quality time and Physical touch. It was a very practical, useful teaching because my wife and I have different love languages. Mine is words of affirmation, and hers is receiving gifts. The challenge came when I would want to communicate love with her, and I would use words of affirmation, but that didn’t translate well for her. When I discovered that her love language was receiving gifts, I found it much easier to communicate love to her in a way that she would understand it.
So my love language is words of affirmation. More than a gift, any act of service, time spent or physical touch, the best way to communicate love to me is through words. That’s why I may not get excited about a gift, but when someone sends me a card, letter or an e-mail with words of affirmation in it, I feel loved. However, there is a big difference between affirmation and flattery.
Affirmation or Flattery?
Have you ever had someone flatter you? Flattery is defined as “excessive, insincere praise.” As much as I enjoy genuine words of affirmation, there is nothing more annoying to me than fake words of flattery. And although I don’t like being rebuked or corrected either, I would rather have someone be honest with me and tell me what they really think.
If you really love someone, then when you see that they are getting off into trouble, or doing something that might hurt themselves or others, you will challenge and rebuke them. And believe me, I don’t enjoy this anymore than you do! I don’t like confrontation, but if I truly love my friends, then I need to be willing to bring rebuke or correction when they need it. They may not like it initially, but as Solomon says, “He who rebukes a man will afterward find more favour.”
Matthew Henry describes this well in his excellent Bible commentary: “He that cries out against his surgeon for hurting him when he is searching his wound will yet pay him well, and thank him too, when he has cured it.”
If a friend brings you a rebuke or a criticism about your behaviour, do a quick search and see if there’s anything to what they have to say. And, if what they are saying is true, humbly be quick to repent and change your behaviour. Then make sure you thank your friend for their loving concern for you and your well-being. If you see one of your friends getting off into trouble, make sure you speak the truth in love to them as well, and when you do, you can rest assured that sooner or later you will find their favour. They will appreciate your honesty!