Receiving Rebuke

Justin Johnson

Rebuke hurts.

No one likes to be wrong or faulted, but if we desire to grow in right doctrine we must hear it. The best place to hear it is the Bible (2 Tim 3:16). The next best place is by those who desire to see your growth in the truth of God’s word.

Rebuke reveals the character of a man. If someone is a scorner, wicked, or proud he will hate rebuke and will fight back (Prov 9:7), but a wise man hears rebuke as instruction.

“A wise son heareth his father’s instruction: but a scorner heareth not rebuke.” – Prov 13:1

The Bible speaks highly of rebuke as a help. Paul instructs Timothy to do it alongside preaching and exhortation (2 Tim 4:2).

One of the clearest examples of Biblical rebuke is in Paul’s letters to the Corinthians. The entire book of 1 Corinthians is an open rebuke as he faults them for all sorts of ignorant and evil behavior.

Yet, he concludes the book with a statement of his love for them.

“My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen.” – 1 Cor 16:24

How can such a long rebuke be considered loving? It would only be seen as such if the Corinthians were wise to receive it as instruction from their father in the faith (1 Cor 4:15).

The sign of godly rebuke is this love motivation. The difference between a rebuke and an unkind word is not the words spoken but the motivation of love to see the truth benefit someone else. This is charity.

Without charity rebuke becomes destructive and mean spirited.

It is charitable to speak the truth, even when the truth hurts (Eph 4:15). It is not loving to keep the truth a secret under the guise of love.

“Open rebuke is better than secret love.” – Proverbs 27:5

Charity rejoices in truth and not iniquity (1 Cor 13:6). This requires we know the truth.

Rebuke is needed if we want the church to maintain its strong foundation upon the truth (1 Tim 3:15).

This is contrary to the modern “love gospel” which avoids any hurt whatsoever. This leads to churches, families, and a culture that despise rebuke, and avoid doctrinal truth.

Without rebuke we will overlook our faults, then justify our faults, and finally become so deceived so as to uphold our faults as being right.

The rebuke may hurt, but will help establish the truth if done and received charitably.

The most significant growth can happen after a godly rebuke. It depends on how it is received.

Continue to grow in the knowledge of the truth. Receive rebuke as instruction.

Heed the open rebuke of parents, mentors, and preachers who instruct you from God’s word rightly divided.

Rebuke helps.

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Published: October 27, 2012
Last Modified: December 21, 2021
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