At The Heart of Rebuke
“Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind and said: “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to Me.” Job 38:1-3 (ESV)
So…I recently had an incident with a co-worker over the height of the lunch table we use. Basically it isn’t level and it slopes towards me at a slight pitch. Never really noticed it or even cared about until he decide to change it. After he was done it now sloped the other way and at a greater pitch. When I stated that he made it worse his reply to me was, “But it slopes the other way and I can’t get my legs under it”. So after the lunches were made his seat was “AH-Perfect” and my lunch was right under my chin (well I’m exaggerating a little but you get my illustration). When I revisited the height issue later in the day I returned with a level and told him what the height really should be…I was not received well at all.
So what was at the heart of my rebuke?
So…I have those times when my wife and I will ask each other about our day’s activities. I get her take on the day and then I’ll go into mine. After a while my take on the day will accelerate to a tirade of “filth dar flarn dar filth” which will make my wife break into “you think that’s bad…filth dar flarn dar filth…so stop your complaining” and the next thing I feel is “SO WHAT!! NO WAY THAT APPLIES TO ME”!!
So what was at the heart of that rebuke?
There can be an ongoing list of things that can be rebuked in a day. Even in Secularland rebukes don’t fly very well with people. They have this “Leave me be so I can be me” mentality that seems to allow them to intrude on another’s “Leave me be so I can be me” mentality which then leads to a plethora of rebukes from all parties who agree with the “Leave me be so I can be me” attitudes. Now at the heart of those rebukes we can clearly see that being offended is at the root on why secular rebukes aren’t received well in Secularland but amongst us Bible believing Christians we’re told something different.
“If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back. But if you are unsuccessful, take one or two others with you and go back again, so that everything you say may be confirmed by two or three witnesses.” (Matthew 18:15-16) Now this is instruction straight from Jesus and I can pretty much settle on the notion that rebuke is needed when sin has reared its ugly head but that other word, “offense” seems to change the dynamics of rebuke. Now what do I mean by that? Very simple, I believe that there are Christian people who spend too much time in Rebukeland simply because they are offended at heart. Instead of using the art of rebuking to esteem someone to live holier we use this art to, well, esteem ourselves…because we have a clearer picture of God’s will and are holier than thou. HA HA!!
In the Book of Job we can go through many chapters on where the art of rebuking has really exposed a heart of offense (i.e. Job 22:6-9) in each of the players in the text. When it gets down to Elihu we get some sense of reasoning but when we get to the “Enough is enough and I can’t stands no more” part of text YHVH comes in whirlwind and asks “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?”, pretty much concluding that absolutely no one knows what they are talking about. Well this morning I petition you to think this one through.
When we go on to rebuke we need to keep in mind this formula… “For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.” (Romans 12:3) and then this passage, “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.” (Philippians 2:4-7)
Whether you are rebuking or being rebuked it is an imperative to keep the mind of Jesus Christ in the forefront. If a mighty Triune God was okay with parting with The Son to atone for your transgressions then it should be okay to take a correction now and again. After all, it ain’t about being happy…it’s about being holy. Amen?
Think About This: “You need to be more tender-hearted and compassionate towards the faults of others. Let everything that bothers you flow like water under a bridge. Live in the presence of God”—Fenelon
This Week’s Verse to Memorize: Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. 1 Peter 5:6-7