Today’s Inspiration. My son is at the age that he loves to please us and hates to disappoint us. He is six (nearly seven), compassionate, sensitive to others’ feelings, affectionate, and tender hearted. When I have to rebuke him, the realization that he has in some way disappointed me, has somehow done something wrong, shows on his little face. His face crumples and there are almost inconsolable tears, and he tries to hide his face behind his hands but longs to be hugged and held.
My son doesn’t yet know the word rebuke, but if he did I’m quite sure he wouldn’t like it. In fact, he dreads the thought of it.
Aren’t so many of us the same?
I don’t hear the word rebuke very often these days, even in Christian circles. I’m guessing it would be accurate to say that it’s not a very popular word, since it has to do with calling someone out when they’re in the wrong, or have done something wrong. The dictionary defines it as “to criticize sharply.” And honestly, who wants that? Or who wants to do that to someone who isn’t your child, but your brother or sister in Christ? (Some people don’t even want to do it to their own children!)
But sometimes it’s necessary. Sometimes, we need to be the spoken-out-loud voice that God’s Spirit has been whispering (even shouting) within our brother’s or sister’s spirit. Thankfully, for those times when it is necessary, God has given us some instruction for how to go about doing this—including the entire reason we’re taking about rebuking. It’s in 2 Timothy 3:16:
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness. (NIV)
Today’s Challenge. Your challenge today is to explore the idea Paul presents here—all Scripture is useful for rebuking—from one of two viewpoints: The rebuker, the person having to rebuke another, or the rebukee, the person being rebuked. If you have time, explore the idea from both viewpoints.
Rebukers: When is it appropriate to rebuke another person? How are you to go about it? Remember the context of the passage, described briefly in yesterday’s blog, and search your Bible for other instruction on whether, when, and how to go about doing it.
Rebukees: How are you to react when someone rebukes you? When the Holy Spirit speaks to you and tells you something needs to change? I know my initial reaction is to go on the defense and bite back (admittedly, not the best reaction). Search your Bible for advice on how to react, or for examples of how individuals confronted with their wrongs have reacted in the past.
As always, your explorations should be accompanied by prayer and a bit of soul-searching. Ask God to help you understand and to be able to look at things honestly, with his eyes and heart, and to help you if action is needed when you’re done.
Today’s Participation. I’ll admit that this was a hard challenge for me to write and think about, simply because I’ve wondered if I should approach a friend of mine about something I suspect is going on in her life. Do I know her well enough? Is it even really going on? If it is, how will she know the only reason I bring it up is because I love her? How can I convey God’s love and God’s wisdom in this—or should I?
The participation today is to try to obey God if you’re in a situation where rebuke (or repentance) is called for. After prayer and exploration and God’s prompting, do what you believe God is asking you to do—if anything. Whatever you do, do it with the backing of God’s word—and do it in love.