Better is open rebuke than hidden love.
This passage seems a little strange. No one likes to be rebuked but everyone wants to be loved. So how is rebuke better than love?
Hidden love is worthless. Love is a verb. It requires action. If I love you but never act lovingly toward you, my “love” amounts to nothing. So this passage is saying: If you love someone, do something, act like it, tell them.
What an important truth for parents and children, husbands and wives and even friends. The old, “They know I love them so I don’t have to tell them” is a deception. Tell them, express your love, lavish it on. Do not let your love remain hidden.
So how is open rebuke good? Proverbs repeatedly says a wise man accepts a rebuke, learns from it and grows wiser but a fool resents anyone who tries to correct him or keep him in line. A rebuke is actually an expression of love.
Think of the parent who looks away, ignores a child’s misbehavior rather than confront it and deal with all that goes along with correcting bad behavior. The parent who looks away is thinking more of themselves than the well being of the child. The parent who confronts the behavior is more concerned with the child’s best interest than their own.
Open rebuke is hard to receive but it is also usually hard to give. We want to be liked. We want to be accepted. Often when we give a rebuke we will face rejection, disdain. It takes love to look past our own insecurities, care more for the best interest of the other person and rebuke one in need of it.
This thought is continued in the next verse:
Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.
Both are saying the same thing. An open rebuke may wound us but if we will embrace the wound and learn from it it will be of great value whereas hidden love does us no good and in reality is worthless.
Proverbs 3:11, 12
My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.
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