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Receiving a Gentle Sharp Rebuke

Well I’m on vacation in Florida, but I wanted to take a moment to write a quick blog post. The topic is receiving criticism.

Phil Johnson posted a timely blog post today over at the Pyromaniacs blog on 2 Timothy 4:2. He writes in regard to the oft shirked duty of pastors to rebuke, reprove and exhort. Please go have yourself a read.

in these postmodern times, it is commonly thought that “gentleness” excludes every kind of rebuke or correction—especially the sharp rebuke. But it’s clear that Paul saw no necessary contradiction between gentleness and firm rebuke. That has to be our perspective as well, or we will never be up to the simple yet far-reaching task Paul lays on our shoulders here.

As I’ve grown in my faith, I have found that one of the things I am most grateful for are rebukes, both from trusted brothers and from total strangers. Make no mistake, I certainly appreciate encouraging words. Many times the Lord sends them just when I feel I can’t go any further. But with my goal being holiness, no amount of positive affirmation has the ability to shake me out of the stupor of deceiving sin. For this I need to be rebuked.

You're right, I can't handle the truth!

Since starting this blog I have received, along with many notes of encouragement (thank you!), some small amount of criticism (thank you, too!). To my shame I admit that too often my first reaction is to bristle at these more critical messages. However, to the credit of Christ in me and the sanctifying work of His Spirit, I have been given to taking a second look and to considering each scrutiny and rebuke (even the rude drive-by anonymous commentator. You know who you are!). You could ask my wife, and she would tell you that I obsess over these remarks. I really do try to honestly evaluate myself in light of them—even when they come from such quarters as the Tone Police. Sometimes I conclude that the criticism is unfounded. Sometimes I am forced to humbly accept it, repent and trust Christ to help me make the necessary heart changes. But why take the time to do this? Because, though I frequently fail and succumb to the flesh in regards to receiving correction, my desire is to be more concerned about living righteous than being right.

Phil Johnson’s post struck home with me because, though he was focussing on giving rebuke, I want to be rebuked. You should, too.

If holiness is our goal then, though it will hurt, we must be willing to accept correction, even sharp correction. All for His glory.

So, I guess bring it on… but do please be gentle.

“Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.” Proverbs 27:6