Okay, prepare yourselves. THis is an entry that might require much humility. So check your pride at the keyboard and read on.
Today someone read to me one of those dumb emails that everyone fowards and what not. It was a letter dedicated to those born before the 1960’s. It said things like “You ate raw eggs, climbed real trees without being properly strapped in, had cribs painted with lead paint…and you’re still alive.” Well, it’s fun to reminisce. If you’ve ever seen an old movie having to deal with the church in some way, there is always some kind of sin that the church must deal with. This, ladies and gentlemen, is an example of a rebuke. GASP. I do believe that it has become a wirty dird in today’s church going generation. Everyone else’s business is their own, right? Wrong. So wrong.
First, let’s get the difference down between judging and rebuking.
1 Corinthians 5:12- What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked man from among you.”
What is this verse saying? Anyone? Yes, it is telling us that we are allowed to “judge” our fellow Christians. Okay, first, if someone is a non-Christian, then it would be dumb to judge them according to our rules so don’t do that. That’s pretty basic. The second and more interesting part is the second question. “Are you not to judge those inside?” Okay, it’s saying that Christians are supposed to be responsible, accountable, to one another. Don’t for one minute think that your sin isn’t affecting the whole body of Christ because it most definitely is. Even if you can’t see it, it is. You are responsible for me and everyone who sits on your pew at church. Which brings me to my next point:
Jesus rebuked the Disciples it seems like everytime they asked a question. Let’s see…the 12 were arguing over who the greatest is, they didn’t want smelly kids touching Jesus, they thought the prostitute should have sold her perfume and given the money to the poor instead of washing Jesus’ feet. Let’s take a quiz:
Is rebuking mean and hateful and directed to make you feel like the worst sinner ever?
(The answer is no. If Jesus did it, then he must have done it to instruct, not to make them look stupid or feel dumb. Their reactions show this. Peter didn’t get up and storm off or throw a hissy fit or get mad at Jesus. He listened and corrected (key phrase there)).
So, if someone (or you) is sinning then someone needs to confront them about it. It is SO important that the person go to the other in LOVE (and not in pride or self righteousness) and say, “I see you doing this and you know it’s wrong and I want to know how to help you.” Speaking from experience, this can be one of the hardest conversations of your life. It’s scary to tell someone that they’re acting in a way that is inconsistent with what they are professing. But the beauty is that if they are a true Christian, they will appreciate, nay, enjoy the correction because it only presents an opportunity to better their walk with the Lord. That’s what wise people do. Check out these verses from Proverbs:
10:17- He who heeds discipline shows the way to life but whoever ignores correction LEADS OTHERS ASTRAY.
9:7-9 Whoever corrects a mocker invites insult. Whoever rebukes a wicked man incurs abuse. Do not rebuke a mocker or he will hate you. Rebuke a wise man and he will LOVE you. Instruct a wise man and he will be wiser still; Teach a righteous man and he will add to his learning.
So it’s important to realize that if someone is telling you that you are doing something wrong, that you need to listen and fix it or you’ll lead others astray. Try to look past your hurt pride and see what listening will eventually do for you.
I have a quick example of people who didn’t take to rebuking well. The people of Jeremiah’s time. Jeremiah 18:18 They said “Come, let’s make plans against Jeremiah; …So come, let’s attack him with our tongues and pay no attention to anything he says.” So pretty much, they’re third graders who have chosen Jeremiah as the “Nerd of the day”. The lesson that I learned was that Jeremiah was not responsible for whether they listened or not. Don’t shoot the messenger. Ultimately, a rebuke is between you and God. It’s just instigated by an outsider.
On my final note of this rebuking novel, I have the prize, the reward for not turning off your ears when someone is trying to instruct you.
Proverbs 1:23- If you had responded to my rebuke, I would have poured out my heart to you and made my thoughts known to you.
Isn’t knowing God’s thoughts and heart worth a day of broken pride?