Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Proverbs 27:5, TLV
Okay, so rebukes don’t feel good anyway you turn them. They sting enough to make us cry. Hurt enough to wound us. But, they’re all just words, right? We just need to buck up and get over it. There are no such things as just words.
Words created the Universe–it was spoken into being. Our Creator spoke and disrupted what was once nothing and made it something. So His words have power, do ours?
While we can’t speak universes into existence, we can destroy or build up someone’s world. How we speak correction can either be harsh or couched in understanding. On the other hand, if God instructs us to correct someone we care about, and we’re reluctant to give it out of a misguided sense of love, God holds us accountable.
So are rebukes spoken to us — especially publicly — useless? No. A corrective rebuke can be the impetus we need to change.
How about the child about to run into traffic and is yanked back by a stranger, then rebuked? That child won’t — hopefully — ever run into traffic again.
That’s a pretty extreme example. What about someone who unnecessarily turns a correction into a rebuke? Harsh words that make it difficult to find any bit of truth? Here’s where wisdom and discernment comes in. If we are on the search for God’s truth, finding it might mean it could sting, it could hurt. But, if we can take that spark of truth and learn from it, then the prickly shell it came in can more easily be discarded.
Giving correction is an art and skill. We won’t always perform it well, but our hearts should want to. Learning from each other is a gift and can bring us together. And that’s a good thing.