I am prompted to write on the subject of rebuke because of several experiences of the last few months. According to the Bible, (The standard of all life's issues) rebuke is a sometimes necessary and unappreciated task. I have been on both sides of the subject. Of course, as a Pastor, I am commanded to "reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffereing and doctrine." (2 Tim. 4:2) Titus even goes so far as to say, "Wherefore rebuke them sharply" in ch. 1:13, and "rebuke with all authority." in ch. 2:15.
Proverbs 27:5 says, "Open rebuke is better than secret love." Verse 6 says, "Faithful are the wounds of a friend: but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful."
This brings up a very interesting question: "What is the difference between rebuke and criticism?" From a Biblical point of view, rebuke has a goal of correction while criticism has a goal of condemnation and contradiction. The answer actually lies in the motive. What is the motive of the person giving the rebuke or criticism? Maybe we should ask ourselves before we give rebuke or criticism, "Am I doing this to help them or to build up myself? Am I doing this to help or hurt?"
Recently, I misspelled the word "stutter." Not only that, it was missed by the Daily News. In my hurry because of a death in our family, I failed to use my spellchecker. I did receive rebuke/criticism and have taken it well, I think. What I learned from this experience is that sometimes we humans make honest mistakes during times of high pressure. Of course, if we knew all the circumstances, we would not be so quick to rebuke. Here are some suggestions for the use or disuse of rebuke:
- What is my motive? To help or to hurt? To correct or to condemn?: Am I doing it to show me right, or to help them right the wrong?
- What is my standard? My idea or concept? The Bible? My philosophy?
- Will the person see it as Godly rebuke or just bash criticism?
- Is it necessary? Is there a worthy cause? Will it cost a friendship?
- If rebuke can not be given in the right attitude, it shouldn't be given.
- Rebuke/criticism that is not under the control of the Holy Spirit will always fail. Please read Gal. 6:1 and may God bless you.