HOW TO GIVE OR RECEIVE A REBUKE
Passage: Proverbs 9:8 and 27:5
Do not rebuke a mocker or he will hate you; rebuke a wise man and he will love you. Better is open rebuke than hidden love.
While my wife and I were dating we encountered some significant conflicts in our relationship, especially during our engagement period. I did what everyone wants to do when having an argument: go find a friend who would take sides with me. I just knew Doug would back my claims and would completely affirm my perspective. I laid out to him what had happened, what was said, reactions, reasons, and what the resolution should look like. But there was silence. Sometimes silence can be a good rebuke all by itself. Then Doug added a few words, “Jesse, I think there are some ways that you can improve on how you lead and handle this situation.” That was not the advice I was looking for, but it was exactly what I needed to hear! Have your friends ever done something like this to you? Good friends know how and when to challenge you and help you reach the next level in your relationships and your faith.
A friend can be honest and gracious at the same time. A good rebuke is given when you truly care about someone else; it’s vital in friendships. God’s grace produces the courage needed to give a rebuke and the humility to receive one. Have you been in a situation where you saw something that wasn’t right, and you needed to speak up? The Bible gives you some practical advice about when and how to address an issue. If rebukes are done in a sloppy or spiteful manner, they can be dangerous in relationships. It’s important to look to God’s Word as you live out these situations. Rebukes are actually God’s design, emerging from love. Jesus says He rebukes those He loves (Revelation 3:19). For many people, this topic is an area of needed growth. Receiving a rebuke can hurt initially, but it will be a great gift to your character.
Here are seven practical steps when you consider rebuking someone:
1) Praying first before speaking can avoid some wrong turns. Be careful not to just rush into a rebuke; connect with God beforehand. Also, let your tone and words be sincere and kind (Proverbs 25:12).
2) Don’t let the issue fester inside of you. The Bible says don’t let the sun go down on your anger (Ephesians 4:26). Nothing good will come from nursing a grudge.
3) Make sure you have the actual facts. It’s important that what you are saying is accurate. Rumors aren’t reliable. Accusations that are off base can be very damaging.
4) Writing something down can help you clarify the situation. In the heat of the moment, you can forget a thought, ramble on, or say something you later regret. Taking time to write things down can solve some of these issues (Ecclesiastes 7:5).
5) Calmly explain your perspective, and don’t exaggerate or be negative. Be humble at all times. Even if you feel strongly about an issue, don’t let your emotions take control.
6) A rebuke gives an opportunity to set someone free. If we never rebuke each other, we maintain destructive patterns. Rebukes are not easy to give or receive. They usually don’t feel good. Be capable of doing something that is needed even if it is difficult. We need each other to be honest, so we can grow and make positive changes.
Here are some practical steps when you are rebuked by someone:
1) Kindly repeat what you have heard and ask the other person if you have heard them correctly. This will clear up any misunderstandings and also give you a minute to take a deep breath (Proverbs 15:31).
2) Is there any validity to the rebuke? Don’t let your pride get in the way of some area in your life that you can grow spiritually or in your character (Proverbs 3:11).
3) Is there a blind spot or is it stubbornness? There is a difference between not realizing the harmful things you are doing and knowing what is right but refusing to do it (Psalm 141:5).
4) Find out what help is available for deeper issues. There are many people who love you and would like to help you in your struggles. Don’t isolate yourself. Professional counselors are equipped to help and can be a good option. Pastors can be helpful too!
5) Stay out of unhealthy sorrow. Don’t beat yourself up or be too hard on yourself. God doesn’t want you to wallow in guilt and shame. Turn to Him for His mercy and grace and accept it. Don’t just feel bad about the consequences; have a change of heart and find a new way to walk with Jesus.
1) When was the last time you gave or received a rebuke?
2) What did you learn from the experience?
3) Do you need more sensitivity when you speak the truth?
4) What are some reasons that rebukes are good?
2 Corinthians 7:8-12. The goal of a rebuke is not a “guilt trip”; it is repentance.
Hosea 6:1-3. An honest rebuke is frequently an invitation to return to God.
Leviticus 19:16-18. A good rebuke comes out of a heart of love and concern.
Ephesians 4:15. Don’t withhold the truth because you are afraid of someone’s reaction.
Father God, it can be so difficult to rebuke someone. Please help me to have the courage to do it tactfully and to choose my words and tone wisely. I want to be an instrument of Your love, to bring Your healing, guidance, wisdom, and grace to others. It can be so difficult to be rebuked too. Please help me to have the humility to receive it well. I know that rebukes are a gift You use to make me more like You. Please help me to be discerning when other people rebuke me, so that I hear Your voice clearly. I pray this all in Your name, Jesus. Amen.
For more from Pastor Jesse Bradley and Activate Media Ministries, visit www.activatelife.org