Saturday, March 29, 2008

In Praise of Rebuke

We are to speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15) and we are not to war about words (1 Tim. 6:4). In a recent post, Rev. Cwirla encourages people to keep discussions "civil" in matters pertaining to the Issues, Etc. fiasco.

I suppose that "rebuke" doesn't seem a very civil or polite thing to do these days. What then of the passages in the Scriptures which clearly commend rebuke?

I remember on one occasion teaching a Bible class about Judgment Day to the Ladies Aid group. I pointed to the Scriptures which show that the Lord God will consign unbelievers to hell. One of the elder ladies, upon hearing this, in all earnestness said, “Yes, but He’ll do it in a nice way.”

The challenge for Christians, apparently, is to rebuke in a nice way (1 Tim 5:1) -- but rebuke just the same:

"Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching." (2 Timothy 4:2)

"Speak these things, exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no one despise you. " (Titus 2:15)

Do we not also have numerous examples of our Lord and His apostles rebuking others in ways which don’t seem so nice? These were appropriate and not sinful. They did not violate the 8th Commandment.

Jesus refers to Peter as “Satan” (Matt. 16:23) and He tells the Pharisees that their father is not God but rather the devil (John 8:44). John the Baptist refers to the Pharisees as a “brood of vipers” (Luke 3:7). The apostle Paul even said that he wished that those of the circumcision party would go all the way and emasculate themselves (Gal. 5:12).

The latter is not a pretty sight – but it was not sinful to rebuke in that fashion. And I contend that it is not necessarily sinful to rebuke others sharply today:

"For there are many insubordinate, both idle talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole households, teaching things which they ought not, for the sake of dishonest gain. One of them, a prophet of their own, said, 'Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.' This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith . . ." (Titus 1:10-13)

The ultimate goal in any case is that people would turn from that which is falsely called knowledge and from vain worship to the knowledge of the truth, living in grace and peace.

Kyrie eleison: Lord, teach us rightly to rebuke all such things as are harmful to faith and life that we may all the more commend such things as are meet, right, and salutary for Jesus' sake.

1 comment:

Susan said...

Rev. Brondos,

Thank you for your comment at the WT in the discussion on the 8th command giving your blog address. I really appreciated reading your post.