Luke 17:3 Ministries Inc
Friday, May 26, 2017
For Adult Daughters of Controlling or Abusive Birth-Families

Rebuke- It's For Their Own Good

REBUKE-IT’S FOR THEIR OWN GOOD

 

By Rev. Renee Pittelli

 

          SPEAK UP FOR THOSE WHO CANNOT SPEAK FOR THEMSELVES, FOR THE RIGHTS OF ALL WHO ARE DESTITUTE.  SPEAK UP AND JUDGE FAIRLY: DEFEND THE RIGHTS OF THE POOR AND NEEDY……Proverbs 31:  8-9

 

          DO NOT HATE YOUR BROTHER IN YOUR HEART.  REBUKE YOUR NEIGHBOR FRANKLY SO YOU WILL NOT SHARE IN HIS GUILT……Leviticus 19:  17

          THOSE WHO SIN ARE TO BE REBUKED PUBLICLY, SO THAT THE OTHERS MAY TAKE WARNING……..1 Timothy 5:20

          MEN OF PERVERSE HEART SHALL BE FAR FROM ME: I WILL HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH EVIL. WHOEVER SLANDERS HIS NEIGHBOR IN SECRET, HIM WILL I PUT TO SILENCE; WHOEVER HAS HAUGHTY EYES AND A PROUD HEART, HIM WILL I NOT ENDURE…….NO ONE WHO PRACTICES DECEIT WILL DWELL IN MY HOUSE; NO ONE WHO SPEAKS  FALSELY WILL STAND IN MY PRESENCE.  EVERY MORNING I WILL PUT TO SILENCE ALL THE WICKED IN THE LAND: I WILL CUT OFF EVERY EVILDOER FROM THE CITY OF THE LORD…..Psalm 101: 4-5, 7-8

 

REBUKE:  (v) TO CRITICIZE SHARPLY, TO REPROVE SEVERELY; TO REPRIMAND.

 

                    (n)  AN EXPRESSION OF STRONG DISAPPROVAL

 

            "SON OF MAN, I HAVE MADE YOU A WATCHMAN FOR THE HOUSE OF

 

ISRAEL:  SO HEAR THE WORD I SPEAK AND GIVE THEM WARNING FROM ME.  WHEN I SAY TO THE WICKED, ‘O WICKED MAN, YOU WILL SURELY DIE,’  AND YOU DO NOT SPEAK OUT TO DISUADE HIM FROM HIS WAYS, THAT WICKED MAN WILL DIE FOR HIS SIN, AND I WILL HOLD YOU ACCOUNTABLE FOR HIS BLOOD.  BUT IF YOU DO WARN THE WICKED MAN TO TURN FROM HIS WAYS AND HE DOES NOT DO SO, HE WILL DIE FOR HIS SIN, BUT YOU WILL HAVE SAVED YOURSELF……..AS SURELY AS I LIVE, " DECLARES THE SOVEREIGN LORD, "I TAKE NO PLEASURE IN THE DEATH OF THE WICKED, BUT RATHER THAT THEY TURN FROM THEIR WAYS AND LIVE.  TURN!  TURN FROM YOUR EVIL WAYS!  WHY WILL YOU DIE, O HOUSE OF ISRAEL?"…….Ezekiel 33:  7-9, 11.
 

          Wow, the Lord can’t make it any clearer than that!  If ever we had any doubts that God wants us to take a stand and speak up against evil,  this passage should remove them.  The Lord tells us that WE SIN when we remain silent about wrongdoing.  God tells us that we are doing an offender a FAVOR by rebuking her.  Offenders themselves may not see it that way, but quite frankly, their opinion doesn’t matter. 

 

            Although we hesitate and sometimes don’t know quite what to say, rebuking a wrongdoer isn’t really that complicated.  Rebuke is simply making a statement directly to the offender.  It is saying to him, "What you’re doing is wrong, and I don’t condone it", or "What you did was wrong, and you need to be accountable for it."

 

            Rebuke is not condemnation, rebuke is CORRECTION.  It is teaching, pointing someone in the right direction, showing him, by our disapproval of his behavior, what is appropriate and acceptable.  When we rebuke, we are warning a wicked person.  We are giving her a chance to change her ways and save her soul.  God WANTS her to turn from evil and be saved,.   He does not want anyone to continue sinning and be condemned to hell.  Therefore, he assigns us a divine mandate to REBUKE when we see evil being committed.  

    

            So why are we so reluctant to speak up?  Maybe we never thought of it as being on a Mission From God before.  Yet, that is what it is.  Our mission is to turn as many souls to the Lord and away from the devil as possible.  And rebuke is the God-given tool by which we will do that.

 

            Unfortunately, few wicked people, or "fools" will turn from their sin, but the Bible tells us that righteous people will appreciate our rebuke and heed us.  By rebuking, we can help good people to see the error of their ways,  avoid destructive or hurtful behavior, grow in the Lord, and walk more closely with God.  REBUKE A WISE MAN AND HE WILL LOVE YOU,.  INSTRUCT A WISE MAN AND HE WILL BE WISER STILL; TEACH A RIGHTEOUS MAN AND HE WILL ADD TO HIS LEARNING…..Proverbs 9: 8-9.     HE WHO REBUKES A MAN WILL IN THE END GAIN MORE FAVOR THAN HE WHO HAS A FLATTERING TONGUE…Proverbs  28:23.  FLOG A MOCKER, AND THE SIMPLE WILL LEARN PRUDENCE: REBUKE A DISCERNING MAN, AND HE WILL GAIN KNOWLEDGE……Proverbs 19: 25.  THE FEAR OF THE LORD IS THE BEGINNING OF KNOWLEDGE, BUT FOOLS DESPISE WISDOM AND DISCIPLINE…..Proverbs 1:7.   This is a Biblical version of "You can’t win them all", but we’re still supposed to try,  Those who can be saved, will be saved, and those who can’t be saved, by their own choice, won’t be. 

 

            Rebuking is different from setting limits or boundaries.  We set boundaries on FUTURE behavior, but we rebuke PAST or PRESENT behavior.  We usually rebuke ONGOING behavior, but we might also rebuke a one-time offense which caused pain for us or someone else. 

 

            Many times rebuking goes hand-in-hand with setting boundaries.  After we have rebuked an offender for something they have already done, or are doing on a continual basis, we then set limits on what we will tolerate from then on.  The rebuke is the first step in letting someone know that their actions or words are unacceptable and will not be condoned.  The boundaries are the next step, to make clear what is or is not acceptable in the future.

 

            Rebuking can be described as "speaking the truth in love".  BOTH TRUTH AND LOVE are equally important.  Being loving does not mean that we cover up, whitewash, avoid, or deny speaking the truth.  And telling it like it is does not mean we are not loving, although offenders will often try to make us feel guilty for doing so.  Speaking the truth is stating, quite simply and clearly, what the offender has done, that his behavior is unacceptable,  and what the results of his actions or words were, including pain inflicted on someone else.  Since we did not cause the pain, describing it and stating the facts is nothing for US to feel guilt over.

 

            Speaking the truth plainly does not mean we cannot do it with love.  We need to at least start out with a spirit of reconciliation and the hope of resolving the problem.  Whether this is possible or not is not solely up to us, but will depend upon the offender’s reaction to our rebuke.  Our only obligation is to live in peace with others AS FAR AS IT DEPENDS ON US. (Romans 12:18 )  However, God realizes that it is not always possible to live in peace with everybody because it does not always depend on US, and we need to realize that, too.  We are not responsible for an abuser’s negative reaction to our rebuke or his refusal to listen to rebuke.  We are only responsible to rebuke him in the first place.  If he refuses to repent and change his ways, our responsibility ends and we are released from any obligation to continue the relationship under those circumstances.  In fact, at this point, the Bible tells us to have nothing further to do with him  ( Titus 3:10-11; Matthew 18:15-17, Mark 6:11, 2 Corinthians 6:14-15, 17-18,   2 Timothy 3: 2-5,  Matthew 7:6, 1 Corinthians 15:33, 1 Corinthians 5: 2, 4-5, 11, 13, Proverbs 22:10, 24-25, Deuteronomy 17:7 ).

 

            Rebuking with love does not mean we must be passive, wishy-washy, reluctant, or even calm when we rebuke.  How we approach rebuking an offender has more to do with HIS nature than ours.   We need to adapt our approach to the offender’s personality and character. 

 

            Jesus tailored the forcefulness of his rebukes to the personalities of those he was rebuking.  When he met the Samaritan woman at the well, he stated the facts of her sin gently but firmly.  "I HAVE NO HUSBAND," SHE REPLIED.  JESUS SAID TO HER, "YOU ARE RIGHT WHEN YOU SAY YOU HAVE NO HUSBAND.  THE FACT IS, YOU HAVE HAD FIVE HUSBANDS, AND THE MAN YOU NOW HAVE IS NOT YOUR HUSBAND.  WHAT YOU HAVE JUST SAID IS QUITE TRUE"…..John 4:16-17. 

 

            Jesus knew the hearts of his disciples and rebuked them gently as well:  THOMAS SAID TO HIM. "MY LORD AND MY GOD!"  THEN JESUS TOLD HIM, "BECAUSE YOU HAVE SEEN ME, YOU HAVE BELIEVED; BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO HAVE NOT SEEN AND YET HAVE BELIEVED"….John 20: 28-29.

          "SIMON, SIMON, SATAN HAS ASKED TO SIFT YOU AS WHEAT.  BUT I HAVE PRAYED FOR YOU, SIMON, THAT YOUR FAITH MAY NOT FAIL.  AND WHEN YOU HAVE TURNED BACK, STRENGTHEN YOUR BROTHERS."  BUT HE REPLIED, "LORD, I AM READY TO GO WITH YOU TO PRISON AND TO DEATH."   JESUS ANSWERED, " I TELL YOU, PETER, BEFORE THE ROOSTER CROWS TODAY, YOU WILL DENY THREE TIMES THAT YOU  KNOW ME."….Luke  22: 31-34.

 

             With some people, we will need to take a mild, although firm, approach, because anything stronger will overwhelm or devastate them.  These people are usually not chronic abusers, as chronic abusers usually have much thicker skins, but are perhaps thoughtless or inconsiderate.  Blasting them with both barrels would be very hurtful and counterproductive.  We may wind up doing far more damage to the relationship than the original offense did.  Approaching them in a calm, laid-back manner and with a spirit of cooperation will give us the best chance for restoring the relationship to one that we can all be happy with.  This is the best possible scenario, where everyone involved acts out of love, so that everyone’s feelings can be validated and hurtful behavior will stop.

 

            Unfortunately, at the other extreme is the malicious abuser- the one whose behavior is outrageous and destructive- the one who betrayed you- the psychopath who couldn’t care less about anybody but herself- the one who makes your life, and probably everyone else’s, a living hell.  This is not the type of offender you pussy-foot around.  You are never going to get anywhere with such a person by being gentle and low-key.  You will probably have no choice but to raise your voice just to be heard.  This is the time to break out the big guns, make sure your rebuke is very strong, and make your disapproval of his behavior loud and clear.  Allow yourself some righteous anger, and allow that anger to show.

 

             Now none of this means that you don’t love your relative anyway- indeed, you are putting yourself through all this turmoil just to make your relationship better.  It simply means that your relative’s stubborn, stiff-necked, or unloving nature makes it necessary for your rebuke to be powerful.  Anything less, and this abuser will just steamroll right over you, and nothing will be accomplished at all. 

 

            Again, we turn to Jesus’ example to teach us how to forcefully rebuke a prideful, stubborn, or seriously abusive person when the situation calls for it.  His rebukes of the Pharisees illustrate for us how to confront those who will not turn from their evil:  "WOE TO YOU, TEACHERS OF THE LAW AND PHARISEES, YOU HYPOCRITES!  YOU TRAVEL OVER LAND AND SEA TO WIN A SINGLE CONVERT, AND WHEN HE BECOMES ONE, YOU MAKE HIM TWICE AS MUCH A SON OF HELL AS YOU ARE."…Matthew 23:  15.

          "YOU ARE LIKE WHITEWASHED TOMBS, WHICH LOOK BEAUTIFUL ON THE OUTSIDE BUT ON THE INSIDE ARE FULL OF DEAD MEN’S BONES AND EVERYTHING UNCLEAN.  IN THE SAME WAY, ON THE OUTSIDE YOU APPEAR TO PEOPLE AS RIGHTEOUS BUT ON THE INSIDE YOU ARE FULL OF HYPOCRISY AND WICKEDNESS."….Matthew 23:  27-28.

          "YOU SNAKES!  YOU BROOD OF VIPERS!  HOW WILL YOU ESCAPE BEING CONDEMNED TO HELL?.....AND SO UPON YOU WILL COME ALL THE RIGHTEOUS BLOOD THAT HAS BEEN SHED ON EARTH…."….Matthew 23:  33, 35.

 

            I smile when I try to imagine one of us having the courage to call even downright wicked people  "sons of hell",  "snakes" or a "brood of vipers".  It seems we try so hard to voice our complaints about someone’s mistreatment the "peaceful" way,  even though that rarely gets us anywhere with true abusers.  One way of looking at it is that with some people, you might as well prepare yourself because there is no way, no matter how nicely you try to approach them, that you are not going to wind up in a big fight anyhow.  This is THEIR doing, NOT yours.  Getting all huffy and insulted and starting an argument when you try to reason with him is an abuser’s way of diverting your attention from the real issue, so he can avoid having to apologize or agree to any change in his behavior.  In fact, if he’s really good at his little act, he’ll wind up getting YOU to apologize for upsetting him!  This will also guarantee that in the future, you’ll be reluctant to ever again bring up anything else you might need to get resolved with him.

 

            YOUR challenge, on the other hand, with a "professional" abuser, is to turn the tables on his strategy, and to make the confrontation so unpleasant for HIM that HE’LL be the one who is reluctant to rattle YOUR cage again..  If you succeed, there actually is a chance that you’ll be able to resume a reasonably pleasant relationship with this person, because, if nothing else, at least he’ll have some respect for you and hopefully be more careful about ignoring your boundaries in the future.  If you can get him to censor what he says and does around you in the future, your interactions will at least be tolerable, should you choose to continue in the relationship, and whatever it takes to accomplish that should be tried.  Again, although it is not the first and best choice, you can still love your relative and rebuke her severely if her own hard-hearted nature makes it necessary.

 

            When rebuking a fellow believer, by all means, point out what the Bible says about his behavior.  It is very important to lovingly show him how his sin will separate him from God.  Unfortunately, this very important point, which means so much to us as Christians, will have absolutely no effect on a non-believer.  When the offender is a non-believer, the strongest motivation for him to change will be social censure and the disapproval of his peers.  You will find this is true of some "Christians" as well.  But since WE are Christians- no matter who we are rebuking- it is very important for US to make it clear that WE do not condone hurtful behavior , and that WE  strongly disapprove of wrongdoing.

 

            The one you are rebuking may very well believe you are not being loving, and may accuse you of "harshness", "attacking" her, etc.  But just because she feels unloved at this particular time, does not mean it is true.  You can tell her you are sorry she feels that way but that doesn’t change the fact that what she did was wrong and you do not accept it.  Such a reaction is the result of her own pridefulness and the shame she feels at being confronted with her unacceptable behavior.  Rather than learn from your rebuke and repent, she chooses to try and turn it around to make YOU feel guilty for speaking up to her.  An abuser’s negative reaction does not mean we are wrong for rebuking her.  Her reaction really doesn’t  matter.  It is not our job to make her happy at the price of turning a blind eye to her wrongdoing.  Our only obligation is to be obedient to the Lord and stand up and confront wickedness as he has told us to do.

 

            Here are some examples of rebuke in some common situations.  First, I have given the mild version (A), and secondly, the more forceful version of these examples (B), for when the milder versions won’t work.  These are just examples of dialog to demonstrate how rebuke might sound.  The possible situations which might call for rebuke are endless and it is impossible to give exact examples to cover every circumstance, but I hope to give you some ideas as a jumping-off point: 

 

 

            (A)It was wrong of you to keep that money when the clerk gave you too much change.  What if it comes out of the clerk’s pocket?  You need to give it back.

 

            (B)It is dishonest of you not to return that money.  That’s stealing! Since when are you a thief?  I’m ashamed of you!

 

            (A)You embarrassed me when you told Aunt Marge about my marital problems.  You broke a confidence and now I feel as if I can’t trust you anymore.

 

            (B)How dare you tell anyone my personal business?  It’s not your place to talk about me to others.  If I want anyone to know my business, I’ll tell them myself!

 

            (A)I know you don’t realize this,, but your behavior is inappropriate and your judgment is poor when you’ve been drinking.  So you cannot be with my children if you’ve had a drink.

 

            (B)Being drunk in front of the kids is totally unacceptable!  You are never to drink in their presence again!

 

            (A)I don’t like it when you raise your voice to me.  Let’s stop this conversation now and pick it up again after we’ve both calmed down.

 

            (B)I am another adult, not a naughty child you think you can yell at.  From now on, you will address me with respect, is that clear?

 

            (A)Maybe you didn’t mean to hurt Sally’s feelings, but what you said to her sounded a lot like criticism.  I think you owe her an apology.

 

            (B)Sometimes you say very hurtful things and you need to keep that in check when talking to Sally.  No one really wants to hear your criticism.  You need to apologize to her for what you said,.

 

            (A)Let’s try and make our get-togethers enjoyable for both of us.  I don’t want to spend our time together listening to you evaluate me, so please stop.

 

            (B)If you are going to be judgmental of my life, then you need to keep your opinions to yourself.  What I do is none of your business!

 

            (A)How could you say that about Ellen?  You know that’s not true.  You need to go back and set the record straight.

 

            (B)Why did you pass malicious gossip around about Ellen?  You are a liar!  She never did what you said, and she never did anything to deserve such treatment from you.  I will not let you get away with hurting her reputation.  You need to go back and admit to everyone that you just made it up!

 

            (A)You know, Joe, you can’t always have what you want when you want it.  You need to be a little patient.

 

            (B)You know, Joe, you seem to think you’re the only one who’s waiting for this.  Stop being so selfish and wait your turn like everybody else!

 

            (A)Mom, sometimes you have to take other people’s wishes into consideration.

 

            (B)Mom, you are being very demanding and selfish.  It’s not all about you.  Try to have a little consideration for somebody else for a change.

 

            Sometimes, there are situations in which the behavior is just so wrong that a mild rebuke would be inappropriate.   These are times we need to be direct and tell the offender in plain language that he is WRONG!   Only forceful rebuke fits certain circumstances:

 

 

            You used my apartment to cheat on your wife?  How dare you involve me in your adultery!  I will not be a party to this.  Give me my key back now- you’re not welcome here anymore!

 

 

            I know you beat Jessie up.  Your behavior is deplorable.  You need psychiatric help!  Stay away from me and my family!

 

 

            No, I’m not your friend since you were convicted of child molestation.  I don’t have friends who are child- molesters!  I have to have SOME standards- What’s next, serial killers?

 

 

            How can you have anything to do with Jim now that he’s in prison for raping your daughter?  That’s disgusting!  As long as you continue to support the pervert who raped your own child, I will have nothing to do with you!

 

 

            You stole money from your sister?!  That is disgraceful and despicable!  What kind of lowlife are you?

 

 

            Mild or forceful, rebuke of a truly wicked person has little chance of actually working.  The Bible tells us not to bother rebuking fools who will not listen.  The point of rebuke is to correct and help turn from sin those who will listen, and to at least stand up to the evil of those who will not.  The Lord’s judgment is righteous and perfect and all who continue in their evil ways will be punished.  Our job is to rebuke wrongdoers, for their own sakes, and to try to influence them to repent.  But God does not tell us to try forever- once we have given an offender fair warning that his behavior is wrong,  then if he remains stubborn and continues in his sin, we are to give up and let him be.  The Lord will deal with him after that.

 

 

            HE WHO HEEDS DISCIPLINE SHOWS THE WAY TO LIFE, BUT WHOEVER IGNORES CORRECTION LEADS OTHERS ASTRAY…..Proverbs

 

10:17. 

          HE WHO LISTENS TO A LIFE-GIVING REBUKE WILL BE AT HOME AMONG THE WISE.  HE WHO IGNORES DISCIPLINE DESPISES HIMSELF, BUT WHOEVER HEEDS CORRECTION GAINS UNDERSTANDING…..Proverbs 15:  31-32.

 

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The Lord specifically called Sister Renee to minister to Adult Children, not their parents, estranged siblings or friends, abusive or abused spouses, or victims of other types of abuse, although what we write here can often be meaningful for those folks as well. Because of this, our ministry and website have a narrow focus which we will not be changing. We simply can't cover everything. In addition, it is not our purpose to help you re-establish contact with someone who felt it was necessary to cut you off for the sake of their own well-being. We do not keep a list of resources for estranged parents or any other type of abuse and suggest if you are sincerely interested in making amends with an estranged relative, you do an internet search for a website or group that will be more relevant to you. If you cannot find a group or site that you can relate to, we suggest you start your own, and bless other people in your position as well as find support for your personal issues. 
For Adult Children and others as well, please understand that we cannot give you personal advice concerning your particular family relationships.  We are not therapists or lawyers, we usually do not have enough information to form an opinion, and time does not permit us to give enough thought to each person's individual situation to do it justice. If you need personal advice, we urge you to contact the appropriate professional, depending on the problem you have- your minister, therapist, attorney, police department, local domestic violence hotline, etc. In reading this site, you acknowledge that nothing you might read here qualifies as or substitutes for professional advice. Please note we cannot recommend or refer you to a counselor and we do not have a list of therapists or recovery groups in your area. The only Counselor we recommend is the Holy Ghost, and we encourage you to read the Bible and learn for yourself what the Lord says about the issues we write about.
Our articles are strictly our personal opinions and testimonies and are not intended to give or offer any advice. All who access this site do so with the understanding that we are NOT professional counselors and we strongly recommend that you discuss your individual situation with your pastor or therapist and pray for the Lord's guidance before acting on anything we write on this site. Unfortunately, the abuse we discuss is all too common, inflicted on countless victims by countless perpetrators. All names and identifying details in our articles have been changed to protect the innocent as well as the guilty. Any resemblance to a real person or persons whom you might know is strictly coincidental.