The greatest test of friendship is whether one person can reprove the other. All of us commit sins from time to time; and all of us try to blind ourselves to our sins, making excuses for ourselves, or pretending the sin did not even occur. At such times we need friends to open our eyes to the reality of our sins. Put yourself now in the position of the friend. Are you willing to open that person's eyes? Are you willing to expose the excuses as false? Are you prepared to risk that person's wrath, as wounded pride rises up in anger? Or do you prefer to blind yourself to your friend's faults, and so join a conspiracy of blindness? In choosing our friends, we should embrace those who are willing to be honest with us, and those prepared if necessary to endure our anger. Without such honesty the friendship has no depth, and is useless. Yet when it is your duty to express criticism to a friend, beware of destroying that friend's self-respect. Always soften your reproof with words of affirmation, in which you acknowledge their virtue. And ensure that our own motives are good: that love, not jealousy or anger, is the true wellspring of your words.-Excerpt #48, On Living Simply.
This is undoubtedly one of the hardest things to do and sometimes takes a whole lotta courage, especially if the person is like the one described in the previous post. And of course being the one reproached can be equally if not more difficult. I guess it boils down to two things really, courage and humility. Well no..wait...3 things...courage, humility and love. Always love.
I would like to direct your attention to a fine blog posting from yesterday written about this very thing by a priest in the 21st century, Fr. Michael, who serves at Holy Nativity Church in Canada. Click here.