5 Open rebuke is better than secret love. 6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.
Matthew Henry’s Commentary – “It is good for us to be reproved, and told of our faults, by our friends. If true love in the heart has but zeal and courage enough to show itself in dealing plainly with our friends and reproving them for what they say and do amiss, this is really better, not only than secret hatred (as Lev. xix. 17), but than secret love, that love to our neighbors which does not show itself in this good fruit, which compliments them in their sins, to the prejudice of their souls. Faithful are the reproofs of a friend, though for the present they are painful as wounds. It is a sign that our friends are faithful indeed if, in love to our souls, they will not suffer sin upon us, nor let us alone in it. The physician’s care is to cure the patient’s disease, not to please his palate.”
*** End Commentary ***
I recently spoke with a brother in Christ about something similar as this proverb and explained to him as brothers and sisters in Christ we first and foremost are ALL equal in that we are under the authoritative obedience to the entirety of the scriptures, or should be if we are professing Christ and His purchasing the rights to us with His blood on the cross of Calvary, and yet many continue to live in a subjective manner, meaning their way is right and they are the boss. This is one of MANY reasons why pride is a deeply rooted sin and the roots of which are one’s self-righteousness.
If we truly love God with all our hearts, souls, mind and strength and our neighbors as ourselves, based upon the Word of God, we are also saying that we are willing to accept mutually there is a willingness to be corrected of our sins when there is something that is of a sinful nature and sometime when deeply rooted, may even warrant an admonishment, reproof, or a rebuke. These three words are VERY IMPORTANT when it comes to the Word of God and is VERY FOUNDATIONAL to the knowledge of how to properly use the scriptures when loving our neighbors or when they love us. We must always be thinking what the main purpose is of going to church, and it’s not about seeing our friends, drinking coffee, and being entertained. Those are all worldly things that can and at times, should be done at places other than the church. The main purpose of going to church is to glorify God in our worship and then receive His Word unto us, properly taught, and with an application implied, if not in the teaching, always is in His Word, and we may need to do more study, hence the word Bible STUDY. But let’s look at the definitions and the proper uses of each one. This is basic Christianity 101, but believe it or not, some have never learned this in the churches they’ve been in.
2 Timothy 3:16
– All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.
This one verse should be memorized, even burned deeply into our brains, for it’s one of the top 5 of ALL the scriptures that the church and a fellow brother or sister in Christ, should be using and doing in love. Yet, many because of pride, don’t even subject themselves in humility to these truths, and that is the reason why many churches are more “self-focused” instead of God honoring and Christ following, the reason for being a Christian in the first place. Let’s get this out of the way right now, because we think we’re the boss, we DO NOT by nature like to be corrected or told that we are wrong! But Biblical correction when done properly, shows great love for God and honors Him when we do as He has said in His Word. But now that I sidetracked enough let’s look at some definitions.
Reproof and correction are two nouns that have similar meanings. Both are related to errors or mistakes and their consequences. Reproof refers to an expression of blame or disapproval. Correction refers to the action or process of correcting – setting something right. This is the key difference between reproof and correction.
What Does Reproof Mean?
Reproof refers to an expression of blame or disapproval. Reproof is derived from the verb reprove. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines reproof as “criticism for a fault”, whereas Cambridge dictionary defines it as “something that you say or do to show that you disapprove of someone’s bad or silly behavior”. Compared to other verbs indicating disapproval such as rebuke and reprimand, reprove implies an often-kindly intent to correct a fault. Therefore, reproof too can be described as somewhat kind and gentle correction.
“My mother gave us a look of reproof, but we pretended not to see it.”
“He hit John in the shoulder in light reproof.”
What Does Correction Mean?
Correction can refer to the action or process of correcting. Correcting means to set or make something right. For example, if you have made a spelling mistake in your writing, correcting would mean erasing the word and rewriting the accurate spelling. Correcting someone’s behavior means pointing out what he or she is doing wrong and teaching him or her to do it right. Correction is defined by the Cambridge dictionary as “a change made to something in order to correct or improve it, or the action of making such a change” and by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as “the action or an instance of correcting”
However, the term “correction”, especially when used in reference to behavior, can also refer to a punishment that is intended to rehabilitate or improve someone. This way it is of the most importance to understand.
When we know what God’s standard is, that is what we are expected to live and grow by to be Christ-like. But like I said earlier, sadly and to their grave error, MANY churches do not teach or use this with their congregation, especially when it comes to counseling and at times of correction before getting to church discipline, if necessary.
Okay, one last thing needs to clearly be communicated. Unfortunately, many also overstep and abuse both their love for their neighbor and in doing so offend God, the very one who gave us the authority. For example, I, unfortunately, sin against my wife many times when I think I am trying to correct her on something when in fact I jump right to an admonishment or a rebuke, and many times has caused either strife or to the point where she thinks she cannot do that task right. This should not be. In fact, this is how many of us also treat our spouses, children, family members, or loved ones. Why? Again because of pride, the flesh, our self-righteous attitudes, and many times, frankly, thinking we are better than others. Therefore, we ALWAYS need to be examining ourselves, and when others properly try to reprove or correct, we need to receive it and go to our knees at the end of the day, confessing before God to help us in these areas of our lives.
Here are two quick and fast rules when loving one another:
1) If you see a brother or sister doing something that’s wrong according to the standard of God’s Word, remember the purpose of reproof and correction is because of love, and the result is God’s righteousness, not ours. So first ask permission to speak to the person and show them in the scriptures to that issue which you are speaking of (and parents, when it comes to your children keeping their rooms clean, don’t tell them “Cleanliness is next to godliness” it’s just not in the scriptures, sorry.)
2) If you think the offense is serious, pray before speaking and see about getting Godly wisdom before speaking. If need be, talk to your Pastor and see if they can offer any advice. After receiving good counsel, proceed, but again, first ask permission. Why? It takes the edge off putting the person on the offensive right away, and tell them, “I am doing this as your brother or sister in Christ, and because we are to love God and love our neighbors as ourselves.
NOTE: If you are planning on correcting, ALWAYS make sure the log is out of your own eye first! In other words, if you are going to correct them first, make sure you are not doing the very same thing all the time. Yes, we slip up, but when it’s a habitual sin and not one that occurs every now and then, we should NOT proceed in trying to reprove, correct, admonish, or rebuke, because we’ll tend to come across as self-righteous.
There may also be times where either you and the friend may part ways because of this, and it just comes with the territory due to them either not being a true Christian, or they’re not mature in their faith and have no desire to grow (I call them milk drinkers) or they don’t see any problem with their behavior. So, we may lose friends, but Jesus warned us this would happen.
Remember our end goal of application from 2 Timothy 3:16:
“To be trained in righteousness” and spilling over into verse 17, “that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”
This one ran a little long this morning because: 1) I have not written in some time and sure felt good! 2) Because of the groundwork for the definition and application.
The good news is, I cut this in two parts, and part 2 shouldn’t be as long, but we’ll be looking at what admonish, and rebuke are, so hope you’ll come back for that as well.
As always, Gospel Blessings!
Sources: Difference Between Reproof and Correction – https://www.differencebetween.com/difference-between-reproof-and-vs-correction/