"Open rebuke is better than secret love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful."
Friendships are not true friendships until they have been through the wild rapids of conflict, honest confrontation, forgiveness, and restoration. This is a necessary process in forming a friendship, in the true sense of the word. Rebuking or correcting somebody is not easy, especially if you hope to retain a friendship in the end. But true lasting friendships will probably not form unless there is a little wounding here and there. When this happens, be very careful that you do not allow your pride to resist the wounding. If your heart resists and you begin to grow bitter, you will fail the test and lose another friend. But if you receive the wound, embrace your friend, and allow the relationship to be repaired, you will have a better friendship for it. These are the kinds of friendships that will stand in good stead through the many storms of life that are sure to come.
Love is willing to take a risk for a friend, but would it risk losing the friendship? Herein lies the real test of friendship. True love is more interested in the well-being of the friend than the friendship itself! This "secret love" referred to in verse five is a love that appreciates the other, but is unwilling to do anything strenuous for the best interests of the other. Even worse than secret love, however, are the "kisses of an enemy." Judas serves as the infamous example of this. It is easy to create shallow friendships and to give twenty hugs on a Sunday morning at church, but would we be willing to give our lives for these people (John 15:13; 1 John 3:16)? Today, many professing believers will shake hands or hug a brother, but they leave the brother in the lurch over every tiny doctrinal disagreement or conflict. These are not true friendships.
We live in a sinful world, and it is difficult for one sinful person to live with another sinful person. But if we care about each other enough to point out each other's sins, and if we are humble enough to confess our sins to one another, we will live fruitful lives in this sin-cursed world.
- Kevin Swanson, The Book of Proverbs God's Book of Wisdom, Book III: Proverbs 24-31, Part 258 ~ TRUE FRIENDS AND GRATEFUL HEARTS