Jump Start #3191
Jump Start # 3191
Proverbs 27:5 “Better is open rebuke than love that is concealed.”
Correction is challenging. It’s not easy at home. It’s not easy among brethren. It’s not easy among friends. And, because it is not easy, many shy away from it. They see things that are not right. They notice things that could be done better, but they kept quiet. They look the other way. They observe the “Passover” on this. Sometimes a person can soothe a conscience that is telling him to say something by thinking it’s not our place. Or, we think, someone else will do it. Or, maybe someone already has and the person is working on changing.
Throughout Proverbs and multiple places in the N.T. we read of the call to correct. David would have likely died in his sins, taking a secret with him, had Nathan the prophet not approached him to correct him.
Here are some thoughts:
First, the closer the relationship and the stronger the friendship, the more likely we will say something. The purpose of rebuke is not so we look better than others. It is not to preform our duties as kingdom police. The drive, the motive, the purpose is because one cares. If you didn’t care, you wouldn’t say anything. Because you want the person to do better and you want the person to go to Heaven, you speak in kindness to help correct something that is right with the Lord.
Be careful that you do not become a nit-picker whose only words are critical, correcting and rebuking. When we do that, people won’t want to be around you. There is a difference between rebuking because behavior is not right with the Lord and pointing something out just because it doesn’t set well with us. As a young preacher it bothered me that some folks sat in the back row. I know at a ballgame or a show they’d want to sit up closer. So, why so far in the back during worship? But it dawned on me that a person can go to Heaven from the back row as easily as he can go from the front row. It’s not where you are sitting, but rather what you are doing. Can you worship God from the back? Sure can.
Second, as hard as it is to give rebuke, receiving it is even harder. Told we are not doing something right, and it just makes the fur stand up. Proverbs shows us that major contrast between the kisses of an enemy and the rebuke of a friend. We love to hear how great we are. We love compliments. Sometimes, like candy, we love compliments too much. I always have a jar of M & M’s on my desk. I do at the church house and I do at home. But too many of those M & M’s and one gets a belly ache. Correction, given kindly and with love will help us much more than walking through life with a swelled head, thinking we can walk on water.
The first and most natural thing one does when correction comes our way is to put up a defense. We look for excuses. We want to know who is behind the rebuke. We start looking for faults in the person who is correcting us. And, all of this makes it even harder for someone to come and try to help us. They know if they try, we’ll attack them verbally. We’ll throw daggers at them. The heat is turned up and the situation often turns ugly. And, this is why some never say a word. All they want to do is to help someone, but the counter attack is launched and relationships are hurt because the one receiving didn’t receive it well.
Some like to play the victim. They will say others are ganging up on them. Everyone is against them. The tears come. And, rather than helping someone with an attitude or behavior that isn’t correct with the Lord, you feel ashamed for even bringing it up. Friends rally around them. And, you are viewed as the bad guy and all you wanted to do was to help someone walk closer to the Lord.
We preachers must watch this. We can preach some hard lessons, but when it comes to taking some correction, some don’t do so well. We are not invincible. Even when we are on top of the game, we can and do make mistakes. We can do this doctrinally. We can do this in our attitudes. We can do this in the way we treat others. Don’t put yourself in a place where others are afraid to talk to you or point things out to you. Don’t be quick with a response. Listen. Often, the good brethren are right. I know. I’ve been helped by others.
Third, our passage is making two contrasts. First, rebuke is contrasted with love. Given the choice, we’d take love. Love makes us feel good. Rebuke often makes us feel guilty. The other contrast is open verses concealed. The love is concealed. The rebuke is open. Open, meaning open. Open, meaning in the public. Open meaning others may know it or others may hear it. We are quick to point out Matthew 18, where Jesus says go in private and reprove a brother. Contextually, that is dealing with a personal and private matter. Many translations will footnote or add, “if your brother sins against you.” Does this mean that all rebuke must be private? Does this make the Proverb passage void? Is it all one way or all the other way?
It seems that the private conversation Jesus has in mind involves something just between two people. No one else knows. No one else is involved. Between the two of them, they can settle this and then it’s over and no one ever has to know about. The Proverb passage, our verse today, seems to deal with a generic situation and is showing that one receives more improvement when he is rebuked openly than loved privately. There is a place for open rebuke. It should be handled with gentleness, love and kindness.
One is better than the other—that’s what our passage is saying. What we’d like, isn’t what’s always the best. Getting a soul aligned with God, even if it takes some nights with pigs, or open rebuke is far better than living a life of delusion that hides the error in one’s heart.
Better is open rebuke…