This year’s Oscars have been overshadowed by the slap Will Smith gave Chris Rock after his ill-thought-out and frankly disgusting ‘joke’ at the expense of Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.
There have been countless column inches given over to this incident, with both Smith and the Oscars taking to social media to comment further. However, the one thing that has stayed with me throughout this week is the report of what Denzel Washington said to Will Smith during a commercial break. It has already been reported on here but has reminded me of the importance of having someone like Washington in our lives.
Denzel Washington wasn’t the only person to go over and speak to Smith in the break – Tyler Perry did too – but it was Washington’s words that rang in Smith’s ears: “At your highest moment be careful, that’s when the devil comes for you.”
I don’t know what ongoing impact those words have had, but they certainly hit home at the time, as Smith referenced them in his own Oscar acceptance speech.
Washington’s words seem to echo what we read in 1 Peter 5:8: “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”
This is something that we would all do well to remember, but I think we can too easily forget in our day-to-day lives. But do we have those around us who are willing to remind us?
Life is so often lived at a frenetic pace these days, and, in our self-obsessed culture, it can be easy to forge ahead with our own ideas and opinions, either not even entertaining or shutting out any voices that challenge us. But that opens us up to becoming easy pickings for the devil.
As Washington said in an interview with The New York Times: “This is spiritual warfare…We’re living in a time where people are willing to do anything to get followed…And people are led like sheep to slaughter.”
The pandemic caused us to be even more isolated and independent; I would suggest that regrouping now is vital to our wellbeing.
We absolutely need those around us who are willing to encourage and champion us – but also lovingly call us out when we are doing something dumb. We all have our blind spots, and it is those who love us most who have the guts to point them out.
I don’t know how close Washington and Smith are, and I absolutely agree that people have to earn our trust before they have the right to speak into our lives. What I would say is, however much a friend’s words of truth can sting at the time, I have experienced the truth of this proverb: “Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses” (Proverbs 27:6).
Those who love us best are willing to risk ruffling our feathers by saying something that might aggravate and unsettle, but ultimately will show us whatever error of judgement we’ve made. They are the ones that help to steer us back on course. For that we should be truly grateful.
If we only listen to those who ‘puff us up’ we are flirting with danger. Let’s embrace those who hold us accountable – and seek to do the same for them.