Open rebuke is better than secret love.
Here is a short and somewhat obscure proverb, but it is one we must learn and practice from both directions. Are you a true, loving friend? Do you appreciate such friends?
There are two kinds of friends, shown by "love" and the next verse (Pr 27:6). One is better than the other, so we must learn and love the good one and reject and despise the bad.
What is open rebuke? It is telling a man his fault personally and directly, whether against you, others, or God. It is open, for you do it to his face, rather than pretending all is well; and it is rebuke, for you confront his error, rather than flattering with compliments. Open rebuke is not telling others, for unnecessarily telling others is very wrong (Pr 25:9; 11:13).
Our Lord taught this rule (Matt 18:15); James taught it (James 5:19-20); Paul taught it (Gal 6:1-3); and Paul practiced it with Peter, whose fault was public (Gal 2:11-14).
Rebuking a friend for sin is true love, which Moses had taught long before (Lev 19:17). Not correcting him is simple hatred. Charity cannot bear its object in sin (I Cor 13:6), as helping them live a holy life is the highest standard of love and friendship (I Sam 23:16).
What is secret love? It is showing affection, friendship, and service without the courage or commitment to correct another's faults. It is secret, for the real character of love - correction - is missing; it is called love sarcastically, for only outward flattery and superficial kindness exists in such a relationship. It is truly hatred (Lev 19:17).
The connected proverb helps (Pr 27:6). A friend wounding you by correction is faithful; but one who kisses without correction is an enemy. The kisses are deceitful, for there is no substance; the wound is faithful, for it is proof of true friendship. Greater favor and stronger friendship will result from rebuke than from worldly flattery (Pr 28:23; 27:9).
Dear reader, do you love this way? If so, you will warn the unruly (I Thes 5:14), reprove and chasten your children (Pr 13:24; 29:15), provoke others to righteousness (Heb 3:12-13; 10:23-25), and please others, rather than yourself, for their edification (Rom 15:1-2).
Do you receive the open rebuke of this proverb without bristling? David said he would consider reproof and smiting by a righteous man a true act of kindness (Ps 141:5). As sinners, we need such friends, who will confront rather than flatter us. Cherish them!
Our Lord Jesus faithfully rebuked His dear friends (Matt 16:23; Luke 9:55; John 21:17).