(Luke 17:3-4 HCSB) 3 Be on your guard. If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. 4 And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and comes back to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”
When I was young, one of the methods of discipline that my parents used was spanking. Mom and dad were good spankers. They would sit me down and explain why I was getting a spanking, they spanked me on my backside, they hugged me while I cried while explaining how much they loved me, and then assured me that the discipline was for my good. Often they would say, “Son, this will hurt us more than it will hurt you.” Of course, being young and immature, I never really believed that! In my limited understanding, I only saw the physical pain I was experiencing. As an adult who has raised two children of my own, I now understand the emotional pain that is felt by the parent. It was painful for all, but beneficial to my development. I am who I am today partly because my parents were willing to hold me accountable for my actions and attitudes.
Jesus spoke very directly to the disciples in Luke 17. His words were strong, clear, and non-negotiable. “Be on your guard. If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him.” I wonder when is the last time you rebuked another Christian? Oh, I know what scripture says about being judgmental… But, Jesus is not talking about judgmental attitudes here. He is actually calling us to accountability. It is my responsibility as a Christian to rebuke another Christian if they commit sin. In fact, according to Jesus I should be on my guard; watching out for their soul and the possibility that I might be drawn into the sin as well.
We are not very good at this! In fact, we don’t want to rebuke or be rebuked. We’d rather just turn our eyes away and mind our own business. But you know what? If my words of rebuke can help you make better and different decisions which will have a positive impact on your life then I should be willing to engage in the dialogue. For this to be done properly, we should consider the following guidelines.
- A rebuke MUST be motivated by love.
- A rebuke is better received when delivered with soft and appropriate words.
- A rebuke should offer assistance, solutions, and prayerful support.
- A rebuke MUST be followed by forgiveness.
Do you know someone who has lost their way? Maybe a friend has backed off from their relationship with Christ. They identify as a follower of Christ, but there is very little evidence to support their claim. Have you considered the possibility that the Lord has placed you in their life to help them in their SpiritLife journey?
I realize this is not easy. It probably will be more uncomfortable and painful for you than it will be for the other individual. But, if your loving involvement can be a mitigating factor in leading them to victory–shouldn’t you be willing to take that chance?
PRAYER: Lord, as difficult as this task can be, please give me the courage to speak appropriately, forgive freely, and support my Christian brothers and sisters on their journey of faith. Amen.