“I was talking with one of my neighbors last night,” Stan commented one morning. “We were talking about how God uses other people to rebuke us, as well as the importance of gentle rebuking.”
“How did you get on that subject?” I asked.
“My neighbor told me,” Stan replied, “that he was reading the newspaper, was upset by what he was reading, said some unpleasant things to his wife, and it didn’t go over very well.”
“Been there, done that,” I responded with a smile. “So what happened?”
“His wife simply said that she didn’t think those were very nice things for a Christian man to say to his wife.”
“Nice rebuke,” I replied.
“And that’s what we were talking about,” Stan said. “Through the indwelling Holy Spirit, God uses His gentle voice to rebuke—and a gentle voice can be a whole lot more effective than a harsh word.”
“Isn’t there something in Proverbs about harsh words stirring up anger?”
“Exactly,” Stan replied, and that ‘something’ is right on point. The first verse in Proverbs 15 say that a gentle answer turns away wrath while a harsh word stirs up anger.”
“So,” I asked, “did you neighbor say what happened after he was rebuked by his wife in the way she did?”
“It seems that he apologized, admitted he was wrong, and thanked her for her gentle rebuke. He also said that later he was thinking about what had happened and realized that it was not just his wife who spoke those words of gentle rebuke, but it was the Holy Spirit speaking through her.”
“By her being open to being used in that way.” I commented.
“That’s it,” Stan replied. “And this is an essential lesson for me that I am constantly trying to learn and remember: that God uses other people to rebuke me and that if I ignore that, I’m probably heading in the wrong direction in my relationship with Him.”
“Being rebuked,” he continued, “is all part of God’s molding and transformational process that began at the moment of my conversion, and it’s to continue for as long as God keeps me on this side of eternity. God rebukes for a reason. If I ignore it or respond inappropriately, it’s another lost opportunity to grow before I go.”
“So,” I replied, “would it be fair to say that Satan does not want me to be molded in the way God does, and that Satan will seek to do all he can to get me to reject godly discipline and correction, whatever the source, especially from those closest to me?”
“Fair, indeed, my friend,” Stan said. “I believe we are to recognize that God’s rebuke, whatever the source, is a blessing that is to be embraced, not rejected.”
Bible verses to consider:
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1.
You rebuke the arrogant, the cursed, who wander away from your commandments. Psalm 119:21.
O Lord, do not rebuke me in Thine anger, nor chasten me in Thy wrath. Psalm 6:1.
Better is open rebuke than love that is concealed. Proverbs 27:5.
Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls. Matthew 11:29.
Speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Christ. Ephesians 4:15.
Prayer: Thank you, Father, for the loving correction and rebuke that you provide through the Holy Spirit. Thank you, too, that you use your people to speak what you have for them to say. I confess that too often I allow my self-focus to reject your corrective rebukes, regardless of the source you use. Please forgive me. And please, Father, help me in following every step of your lead so that I am open, totally open, to hear your voice from whatever direction it comes. I want to be open to what you have for me to hear and to respond to in accordance with your will. Please help me follow your lead. Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus. Amen.
Think on this: When a person is rebuked by another, it’s important to consider the source of the rebuke. Do you agree with that? Why or why not? Have you ever been rebuked by someone you knew was speaking on behalf of God? If so, what was that like? How did you respond? If you are in a situation where you sense you are called upon to rebuke another person, what is the best way to proceed? What would you do if the other person responds in anger?