How To Give Rebuke

rebukeI looked up the word rebuke’ in a dictionary and here is what I found. “It is something that you either give to someone verbally or receive from someone. To act or express criticism to another person, to convict, correct, chastise, expose, rebuke.” In other words its calling attention to sin with a kind intent to correct or assist.

Throughout the Bible there many rebukes given by the Lord. He rebuked Adam, Eve, Abel, Sarah, Moses, Nathan, and Daniel. Jesus even rebuked hypocritical religious leaders, all twelve of his disciples, Peter, the churches of Asia, and he even rebukes us today.

 “All scripture is inspired by God and profitable (used) for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness.” 2 Timothy 3:16

The Bible is our main source of reproof. It’s our guidebook and revealer of our true nature. It reveals our flaws, our thinking, our character, and no other book in the world can do that to the extent the Bible can. With the Bible, we teach, reprove, correct, and train others as well as ourselves.

Did you know that as believers we are commanded to give correction. At times I know this can be a hard thing to swallow and a hard thing to do, but God does tell us to lovingly correct our brothers and sisters in sin. Not unbelievers, but believers.

“Dear brother and sisters, if another Christian is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself.” Gal. 6:1-2

Does that mean we correct every wrong? NO! For God tells us to first look at the plank in our own eyes. However, if a Christian is in some sort of persistent sin, or major sin, then as the Spirit leads, we are told to gently and humble correct that person to bring them back on the right path.

I often like to think of correction as giving someone the medicine they need to get well, sometimes the medicine doesn’t taste good, but it will cure the disease, if we can bear the process.

Giving reproof can be tricky, so below, I have listed a few checks and balances to do prior to correcting someone.

Rule number 1 – You must examine your own life first.  

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Ephesians 4:29

The purpose for correction must always be to humbly warn them out of love. It is never to be done out frustration because someone has offended you. If you are giving correction due to an offence, then you are motivated by pride rather than love for that person. You are more concerned about them sinning against you, rather than against God. Spend time in prayer and find out first if God is truly directing you to correct someone.

Rule number 2- Put an end to the fear of man and say something.

 “Nevertheless many even of the rulers believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they were not confessing {Him,} for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God.” John 12:42-43

The rulers didn’t confess their faith in Christ because they were more worried about their relationship with the Pharisee’s, rather than their relationship with the Father. Many times we don’t correct our brothers and sisters in Christ because we are more worried about stepping on their toes, offending them, or losing their friendship. So instead we remain silent.

In truth we are no different the rules in the passage above. We are afraid of what people will think, rather than our relationship with the Father. In other Words, we would rather them continue in sin then have them think badly of us. Loving people’s approval silences us from saying what the Lord wants said. Don’t be concerned about what man thinks, but rather with what God thinks.

“Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.” Pro. 27:5-6 

Rebuke is an act of love; because we love someone we correct them.

Rule Number 3- Bring questions and observations, not judgments and assumptions.

Many times we have to rely on what we hear and see, and sometimes we don’t see and hear correctly. We can think a person is in sin, when in fact, they may not be. We don’t know the intentions of the heart, unless we ask. So if you ask the person questions before you go accusing them of sin, you may find out that you were wrong about the assumption in the first place. So don’t jump the gun and accuse unless you have all the facts.

Rule Number 4 – Remind them of the Gospel.

When the apostle Paul wrote the book of Corinthians, which is actually a letter of reproof, to the Corinthian Church. He started it off with a message of hope and grace.

 “I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Corinthians 1:4 

Always tie in Scripture when giving rebuke. And when you give correction, leave them with hope.

Rule Number 5 – Follow these 10 rules when Giving Correction.

1- Do it privately, not publicly. “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone.” Matt. 18:15. (There are times when correction needs to be with more people, or publicly  but that discussion is for another time. Usually if it can be done between the two of you.)

2- Do it as soon as possible. That is more natural than waiting a long time.

3- Speak to one issue at a time. Don’t overload the person with a long list of issues.

4- Once you’ve made your point don’t keep repeating it.

5- Deal only with actions the person can change. If you ask them to do something they are unable to do, frustration builds in your relationship.

6- Avoid sarcasm. Sarcasm signals that you are angry at people, not at their actions, and may cause them to resent you.

7- Avoid words like always and never. They usually are no accuracy and make people defensive.

8- Present rebuke as suggestions or question if possible. This is a great way to give rebuke.

9- Don’t apologize for the confrontational meeting. Doing so may indicate that you are not sure what you have said is correct.

10- Most importantly don’t forget the compliments! Follow this guideline, Compliment, Confront, Compliment again.

On the other hand, giving rebuke should not be, correcting every minor detail of a person life. This will only make them resent you. It should not be sending unsigned letters of criticism. If the rebuke is genuinely from the Lord, you won’t hesitate to put your name. Also, if you do not understand what’s going on, then do not find fault with it. Rule of thumb, if giving reproof brings you the slightest pleasure, they you need to “Check your Motive!”

Rule Number 6 – Be patient if change happens slowly.

Sometimes we want sinful behavior to be gone after one conversation. Being sinners ourselves, know that sinful behaviors often take time to weed out. So don’t put higher expectations on others.

Even though giving reproof is difficult it is important to God. Because it is one of his defenses against sin and the effects of un-addressed sin in a person’s life. It gets the sin out! If we don’t give correction, then our friends are likely to continue to stumble and fall in there sin and likely to grow further and further from God. That’s Why Titus 1:13 is so important, “Therefore Rebuke them sharply so that they may be sound in the faith!”

Giving correction will free people from the bondage of sin and that is a beautiful thing!

 Next week, ‘How to receive rebuke.”

Love you all!



13 responses to “How To Give Rebuke

  1. This is such an important topic and I’m glad to see it being addressed. When rebuke is given and received in love, it can do incredible things for our spiritual growth and character. In addition, though it can be difficult and uncomfortable at times, God loves our obedience and helping each other to be better in Him is truly an act of kindness, even in spite of how our flesh may feel. Iron sharpens iron! (Prov. 27:17)

    1 Thessalonians 5:14 (NKJV)
    Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all.

  2. This is so well written. You definitely have a gift. What a great resource!

    Sent from my iPad

  3. Help! How do I rebuke my mother? She’s a Christian but ever since I’ve left the house for college I feel like she’s gotten very lonely (Single mother, never married). Also she got a new job and hasn’t been able to go to Bible study like she loved to. One day an old fling of hers contacted her through Facebook. This man had an opportunity to be with my mom before I was born but he instead married another woman. Now he’s divorced and claims to have been looking for my mom for a while. When she first told me, alarms went off but I didn’t really speak on it. He lives in the same town I go to college in and one day when my mom was visiting she wanted to meet up with him. Like all of us go to dinner. She didn’t have a phone so they were communicating through Facebook on my phone. At this point I could see their previous message and it didn’t really seem like he was interested in wholesome activities but my mom didn’t catch on to that. Fast forward a few months later (I know it was wrong and an invasion of privacy) but I looked at her Facebook messages with him and they had gotten extremely explicit! I understand that my mother has needs like any other human but I don’t want her to go down this sinful path. My mother has encouraged me to stay a virgin for God to bless me and I have. I don’t think there should be a double standard just because she has sinned this way in the past (with me as a result). However she has recently told me that in her own words she feels like “Damaged goods” because she had been sexually abused several times before I was born. Please Help me! I don’t know what to do or say I’m on the verge of tears. My mom needs to be healed from her past so that she doesn’t settled for less in her loneliness. If nothing else please pray for us!

    Thank you

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