In my last post, we talked about everyone’s favorite topic, receiving reproof. I mean, who doesn’t love a hard conversation where someone sees something in our actions, words or character that needs to be corrected? I come from a sarcastic home, and (hopefully you’re tracking with me) listening to someone’s reproof is one of the hardest things for me. The only thing harder is giving it.
Unfortunately for us and our weak flesh, we are commanded to give correction as well as to receive it.
“Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you; reprove a wise man, and he will love you. Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning“ (Proverbs 9:7-9 ESV).
For some of us, this is a horrifying thought because we like to keep the peace and avoid conflict at all costs. For others, this comes naturally. Whatever camp we reside in, we can look to the following steps in Scripture when something or someone needs confronting:
1. Always check yourself first.
“Judge not, that you be not judged … Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother,‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye” (Matt. 7:1, 3-5).
We have to see the distinction between discerning judgment and hypocritical judgment. Jesus is condemning those who hypocritically judge while excusing their own sins. The point here is that we must do corrective surgery on our logs first; only then will we be able to see straight to be of any help to others.
2. Humble yourself.
“Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted” (Galatians 6:1).
In order for us to obey the last point, we need to humble ourselves before the Lord. We must put off anger (if there is any), and see ourselves in equal need of God’s grace.
3. Ask yourself questions.
Is this a believer or an unbeliever? Unbelievers need the gospel more than they need rebuke. Are my concerns biblical or just a matter of opinion? Am I saying this out of love and care for the person? Am I saying this to get revenge for a previous wrong? Is this meant to build them up or tear them down? Have I convinced this person of my love and commitment for them before saying this? Have I earned their ear? Is it necessary? Will not confronting them about this compromise the gospel in any way?
4. Pray for God’s timing.
“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver” (Prov. 25:11).
Ask God for direction about the “when” and the “where” of this sensitive topic. The Holy Spirit will guide us in the wise direction as we attempt to obey Him in this way.
So, do we cultivate a culture of correction in our lives? Are we humble enough to ask for honest assessments? Do we give careful consideration on how to respond to correction and on how to give it?
“The ear that listens to life-giving reproof will dwell among the wise” (Prov. 15:31).
The following quote from David Mathis sums it all up well. “Even when it’s a rebuke poorly delivered, and the timing and tone are off, and the motivation seems suspect, we’ll want to ransack it for every grain of truth, and then repent, and thank God for the grace of having people in our lives who love us enough to say something.”
Published December 8, 2016