Do You Love Getting Rebuked?

From Paul Tripp Ministries


Have you ever had a parent-teacher meeting at school, discussing the behavior and academics of your child?

I was a Christian school teacher for many years, and during one of these meetings, the mom came ready for a fight. She knew her daughter was having difficulty, but we, as a staff, were very fond of this little girl and were trying to help her. In fact, we thought we were the problem, missing an opportunity to assist and hoping her parents could provide insight and wisdom.

To my surprise, the mom started yelling at me as I explained the situation. She accused me of not loving her daughter and wanting to rid the school of its “problems.” I tried to rephrase my first statement, only to be yelled at again. I attempted, once more, to state our intent to help and was shouted down once more.

Finally, her husband interrupted. “Dear, I don’t think Paul is accusing us; he just wants to help.” The mom looked disoriented, then mumbled embarrassingly, “I’m sorry. I just hate these meetings. I was sure you were going to tell us what bad parents we are.”

Of course, the sin of pride plagues us all, but these parents had been hurt in previous conversations that should have been marked by grace.

At a different Christian school, administrators who claimed to be “speaking the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15) had fallen far short of the biblical standard of love. So, when these parents were called in for a time of rebuke, it conjured up sentiments of fear and dread.

Love. Know. SPEAK. Do.

Did you notice the word I just used? Do you find it odd that I chose rebuke? But rebuke is the term the Bible uses for speaking the truth when heart and life change are needed.

Most of us don’t react positively to the word rebuke because we imagine harsh words, red faces, ultimatums, and threats. We don’t think of rebuke as an act of patient, committed love.

Yet when Paul tells Timothy to “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort,” he tells him to do it “with complete patience and teaching” (2 Timothy 4:2).

Rebuke is not something that exists outside a good relationship, brought in only at crisis moments. Rebuke is not a radical moment of truth-telling, with a long list of stern indictments against a person who is significantly rebellious or who has tragically wandered away.

The Bible presents rebuke as a cord of ongoing honesty in an ongoing relationship, a normal part of loving your brother or sister daily. Rather than one big moment of scripted accusations, rebuke is many mini-moments of spontaneous, gentle confrontation.

The New Testament’s model of progressive sanctification and personal ministry describes that as we live with others, our hearts will be increasingly exposed. As we disciple others and are discipled ourselves, we will be called to deal with our sin as God reveals it.

In each small moment of patient rebuke, teaching the Word, and speaking the truth in love, the progress of sin will be slowed, and spiritual growth will be encouraged.

God ordained rebuke to restrain sin until our redemption is complete. If various sins, temptations, and weaknesses are constantly addressed early, they can be rebuked and corrected before they mature into tragic, life-altering consequences.

If you are on the receiving end of rebuke, you should be so grateful that someone would love you enough to spare you from the devastation of sin.

And if you genuinely love a brother or sister that God has called you to disciple, you should love them enough to rebuke them early and often so that they don’t experience the devastation of sin.

“And he said to his disciples, “Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin. Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him” (Luke 17:1-4).

A Prayer for Today: Lord, help me to be humble when receiving a rebuke from someone, and help me to be the kind of person who is willing to rebuke others in love so that they might be saved from the devastation of sin. Protect them and protect me from pride in this process. In Jesus’ name, amen.

God bless,

Paul David Tripp

Discussion Prompt for Children

If you know that an adult like me (or someone else we trust) corrects you, why is that correction a way to show you love? What can that correction save you from if you obey it?

Reflection Questions

1. Have you ever thought that “rebuke” was an act of patient, committed love? Why do you think rebuking has been cast in such a negative light for so many people? How have you experienced a negative form of rebuke in the past? How has a rebuke helped you in the past?

2. How can rebuking slow the progress of sin in someone’s life and encourage spiritual growth? Why is rebuking so important when it comes to addressing sin, temptation, and various weaknesses early on? How have you witnessed healthy rebuking in a way that has stopped sin from maturing into tragic, life-altering consequences?

3. Have you ever thought that rebuking is a form of love? Why or why not? Who is the person (or people) God has called you to shepherd and therefore rebuke early and often so that they don’t experience the devastation of sin? In what position does your heart need to be in when and if you rebuke someone so they actually respond well to it when you do?

Do You Love Getting Rebuked?

New Hope Presbyterian Church Bridgeton, NJ

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