Updated: Feb 23, 2020
I think my children have numbered my "lectures" when I am teaching, correcting and admonishing them. I know I did as a kid. "Here comes lecture #763!" as my mother would start on one of her rants about why I should or shouldn't have participated in some behavior.
I can definitely say this about my mom, she definitely had a passionate opinion on most things and she was not shy on speaking her mind and offering her idea of what course correction I should take when she disagreed with a path I was on. She cared and she spoke up about wrongdoing frequently.
The opposite of love is indifference.
Indifference is neither hot or cold. Neither love or hate. Neither like nor dislike. Neither light nor dark. Indifference is devoid of care, concern or emotion - it's apathy.
As christians we are called to live righteously and to follow in Christ's footsteps. We are given very clear guidelines, boundaries and parameters to live by and within. We are also called to love each other as Christ loved us - and we all know what he did for each and everyone of us. Jesus loved his apostles so desperately that he rebuked them. Like a parent does for a child, a coach for a player, a husband for a wife - we are to hold each other accountable to living an upright life.
"I correct and discipline everyone I love. So be diligent and turn from your indifference." Revelation 3:19
Jesus taught us through modeling and teaching how we are to speak up to each other in times of conflict. The reason we don’t rebuke is not because we are so full of love, it is because we are devoid of it.
Paul tells us that in our relationships there is a three step process in offering loving correction. Let's look at each.
“Reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching” 2 Timothy 4:2
REPROVE with honesty
Calling out the sin of another in this day and age is a highly sensitive undertaking. But when we love someone, we should express disapproval even when it is uncomfortable or costly to do so. To care for someone well, we need prayer (we are unable to handle difficult conversations without it) to ask God for courage, faith and gentle hearts to expose sin even though we may cause offense to someone we love.
REBUKE with boldness
“He rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm.” Matthew 8:26
"Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him, and the boy was healed instantly.” Matthew 17:18
“He stood over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her.” Luke 4:39
When Jesus rebuked someone or something, he demanded, in effect, on God’s authority, that it cease and desist. Winds quieted. Demons exorcised. Fevers dismissed. In order to rebuke well, we need to be very clear what sin is. Using the bible as guidance, ask God to show you in his word examples you can offer, to point the person you are confronting to course correction. Be gracious, but bold and offer to help them turn from their sin.
EXHORT with love
One prominent thread in Paul’s 48 uses of this word suggests that wrapped up in all his exhortations is a strong desire to encourage, comfort, and build up other believers. Resist the natural, sinful impulse to heap guilt and tear down, and instead correct in order to encourage. All Christian correction should aim at restoration. Be compassionate and speak with love.
Love speaks up. Love exposes sin, demands it stops and encourages right behavior. A loving rebuke is not supposed to be like a gunshot, but like a flu shot. It may hurt, but the goal is to help the one you love get healthy.