“I think you are being really selfish about this,” a close friend said to me. Her words sliced me in two like a knife cutting through a sandwich. Being good friends for a while, I admired her greatly. But my immediate reaction was not one of remorse or compassion, but one of anger and rage. Although she was right in correcting my behavior, I was not willing to hear what she had to say. I reacted poorly, causing an irreparable rift between us. My pride that I was doing ok as a Christian had clouded my judgment. Although she was telling me this for my benefit, I could not see it that way. I could only feel my humiliation and reacted out of embarrassment.
It was the same with the Pharisees. They couldn’t stand what Stephen was saying to them because it meant their reputation in the sight of the community would be tarnished. Instead of reacting like the people did at Peter’s words in Acts chapter two, the Pharisees acted out of anger and sought revenge as a result. Stephen lost his life doing what was right in God’s sight, despite what others in society thought of him.
Correction can be tough, but it is necessary for us to grow in our faith. 2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” With everything in life, bad parts have to be removed so growth can result. Cancer has to be removed so cells within the body can function properly. Weeds tormenting a garden can cause the fruit and vegetables to cease growth. Split ends on hair have to be cut so the hair can remain healthy. All of life demands the bad parts of it removed so new growth can result.
But people don’t want to confront someone for fear it will cause conflict, or worse, end a friendship. But if someone (like me) doesn’t respect the other person enough to hear and heed his/her words, am I really being a good friend?