Our walk with Christ is one full of “Choices” and honestly one of the great wonders of the Christian life is that we never have to end on a bad note. There’s always a choice to choose the right path. God always gives us something good to say. He gave us a Book filled with His own words of hope, even when we need to identify, expose, and lance sin with words of love and truth.
Okay… So when was the last time someone sat you down to tell you that you were wrong?
Rebuke doesn’t always feel nice, especially when it is not done right. Personally, these have been some of the most memorable and important conversations in my life, the conversations when someone I loved — father, mother, mentor, pastor, roommate, friend,— had the compassion and courage to tell me when I was out of line. However I felt in those difficult (and often painful) moments, I now treasure those memories (For instance I can now leave home well dressed and covered because my parents especially my mum during our adolescent age put us in check) — the kind confrontations, the caring corrections, the loving rebukes.
We all need a steady diet of parental and friendly course correction, because our hearts — even our new hearts in Christ — are still susceptible to sin (Hebrews 3:13; Jeremiah 17:9). Do you value the hard conversations that keep you from making more mistakes, and guard you against slowly wandering away from Jesus?
We often under-appreciate rebuke — in our own lives, the departments we join in church even in our churches — obviously because we have such small understanding of what rebuke really is. If we are truly going to speak the hard truth in love — or appreciate when others say the hard thing to us — we need a bigger, fuller picture of what this kind of love looks like in relationships.
Reprove, Rebuke, Exhort — As the apostle Paul closes his second letter to his son in the faith, Timothy, he says, “Reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching” (2 Timothy 4:2).
Meaning you can’t go rebuking that sister or brother with a harsh tone expecting a good outcome. Paul in his bid as Timothy’s mentor — He warns Timothy that people will turn away from faithful preaching, preferring instead to listen to messages that conform to their desires and make them feel good about themselves. They will gladly trade away truths for myths, as long as the myths make much of ‘me’ — and downplay their sin and need for help and change.
Do you love the people in your life enough to “reprove, rebuke, and exhort,” even when they don’t want to hear it? Reprove with Honesty. Why reprove, rebuke, and exhort? It may sound redundant and excessive at first, as if Paul was saying, “Rebuke, rebuke, by all means, rebuke!” The three words are related, but distinct, each highlighting a critical aspect of healthy, biblical correction.
The word Paul uses here for “reprove” appears several other times in his letters, and can mean simply to rebuke (Titus 1:13) or correct (Matthew 18:15). But in most or all of the uses, it means to reprove by exposing sin or fault. For instance, Paul writes, “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them” (Ephesians 5:11). Or, “As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear” (1 Timothy 5:20).
Similarly, the apostle John writes, “Everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed” (John 3:20). And then again, about the Holy Spirit, “When he comes, he will convict [or expose] the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment” (John 16:8). Timothy, be ready to call out sin, not just when it’s convenient, but when it’s needed, and even when it’s socially uncomfortable or costly to do so.
To care for each other well, we need to ask God for the courage and faith to tell the truth about sin, and expose it as such, even when doing so might offend someone we love.
When Jesus rebuked someone or something, he demanded, in effect, on God’s authority, that it cease and desist. Winds quieted. Demons exorcised. Fevers dismissed. And sin forsaken. Jesus says, “Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him” (Luke 17:3). Timothy, after you have exposed sin for what it is — deceitful, empty, fatal, evil — summon your brother to stop, on the basis of God’s word and authority. Open the Bible, point to or quote a particular text, and call for repentance. And if he repents, extend forgiveness from that same Book and with that same authority.
If we are going to rebuke well, we must ask God to show us in His word what sin is, and what it is not. And having seen sin in one another, we must consistently and boldly — and graciously — speak up and charge one another to change, to turn, to cease from sin.
Welcome to the month of February!
Stay blessed, Always!
PS: I don’t own the rights to any of the images