Thursday, July 31, 2008

Christian Reproof

I don't like confrontation, and chances are that you don't either. When is the last time you reproved or rebuked anyone as directed in Scriptures? There are many Bible references on our responsibility to correct one another, but we usually hide from our duty. These are a few of the many scriptural examples of godly rebuke:

Titus 2:14 “Encourage and rebuke with all authority. Do not let anyone despise you.”

2 Timothy 4:2 "Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage--with great patience and careful instruction."

Proverbs 24:24-25 “He that saith unto the wicked, Thou art righteous; him shall the people curse, nations shall abhor him: 25 But to them that rebuke him shall be delight, and a good blessing shall come upon them."

Proverbs 27:5 "Open rebuke is better than secret love."

We rarely follow the scriptures when it comes to our responsibility towards other believers. Christian rebuke demands a directness avoided in our day to day conduct. But the flip side of our unwillingness to be direct with others is that we find it all too easy to gossip or murmur instead. Even though we profess Christian love, we complain to anyone with a sympathetic ear about our brethren who offend us. Anyone, except the offender himself! Sadly, if you are like me, you will recall your own failures in talking about, rather than to, those who've offended you. These conversations violate the scriptural rule of speaking the truth only in a spirit of love. (Ephesians 4:15)

We rarely approach others with the intent of restoring them to the right path, as scripture commands! Scripture clearly states that the proof of God's love for us is in his correction. It is also proof of our love for others when we correct them!

Why are we so reluctant to do what God has clearly commanded? Perhaps it is because we are unwilling to obey Him! We prefer slandering someone behind their back to speaking the truth, face to face. Confrontation requires more moral courage than complaint! Half the things we say about others would never be said in their presence! If we're not comfortable saying it to them, it's proof we probably shouldn't say it to anyone!

By nature, I too am a moral coward when it comes to correcting others. This is partly because I feel I'm condemning my own conduct by correcting others. Instead of repenting of my own failures, I often prefer to disqualify myself and turn a blind eye. This kind of blindness comes from a reluctance to deal properly with my own sin. There is a natural tendency to prefer to keep our own sins well hidden, rather than deal with them openly.

Ultimately, avoiding our own faults is not in our best interests. Although practically speaking, we often interpret his Word this way, the Lord never said “Because of the plank in your eye, do not attempt to remove the speck from your neighbors eye!” He commands us to remove the speck from your own eyes first, so we can clearly see to help our brother! (Luke 6:42) We often respond by inaction, just as the servant in the parable who dug a hole in the ground and hid the money entrusted to him by his master. He was too lazy to take the effort required to invest it and bring growth through interest.

Avoiding confrontation with friends and family keeps love hidden and useless as surely as burying money in a hole in the ground. Open rebuke, when done in accordance with scripture, demonstrates Christian affection. We each should resolve not to deny our brethren spiritual correction, even if it means correcting our own faults first.

Read the rest of this article here