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Reproof & Rebuke

We should value and appreciate a wise reprover - John Gill

Few people have the wisdom to like reproofs - Charles Bridges

It is good for us to be told of our faults - Matthew Henry

The best friend is a loving reprover - not a flatterer! - Charles Bridges

Rebuke your brother to his face - Charles Haddon Spurgeon




We should value and appreciate a wise reprover

He who rebukes a man will find more favor afterward, than he who flatters with the tongue. - Proverbs 28:23

Although the reproofs given him may be uneasy upon his mind at first,
and may be cutting and wounding,
and give him some pain,
and so some dislike to the reprover;
yet when he coolly considers the nature and tendency of the reproof,
the manner in which it was given,
and the design of it,
he will love,
and esteem his faithful friend and rebuker,
more than the man that fawned upon him,
and flattered him with having done that which was right and well.

- John Gill, John Gill's Expositor


Few people have the wisdom to like reproofs

He who rebukes a man will find more favor afterward, than he who flatters with the tongue. - Proverbs 28:23

Too often the flatterer finds more favor than the reprover. Few people have the wisdom to like reproofs that would do them good, better than praises that do them hurt. And yet a candid man, notwithstanding the momentary struggle of wounded pride, will afterwards appreciate the purity of the motive, and the value of the discovery. 'He that cries out against his surgeon for hurting him, when he is searching his wound, will yet pay him well, and thank him too, when he has cured it.

Unbelief, however, palsies (paralyzes) Christian rebuke. Actual displeasure, or the chilling of friendship, is intolerable. But Paul's public rebuke of his brother Apostle produced no disruption between them. Many years afterward Peter acknowledged his "beloved brother Paul "with most affectionate regard. The Apostle's painful rebuke of his Corinthian converts eventually increased his favor with them, as the friend of their best interests. The flatterer is viewed with disgust; the reprover--afterwards at least--with acceptance. A less favorable result may often be traced to an unseasonable time, a harsh manner, a neglect of prayer for needful wisdom, or a want (lack) of due "consideration" of our own liability to fall. (Gal. 4:1) Let us study the spirit of our gracious Master, whose gentleness ever poured balm into the wound, which his faithful love had opened. A rebuke in this Spirit is more like the support of a friend, than the chastening of a rod.

- Charles Bridges - Commentary on Proverbs


It is good for us to be told of our faults

Open rebuke is better than secret love. - Proverbs 27:5

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. 19:17), 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.

It is dangerous to be caressed and flattered by an enemy, whose kisses are deceitful. We can take no pleasure in them because we can put no confidence in them (Joab’s kiss and Judas’s were deceitful), and therefore we have need to stand upon our guard, that we be not deluded by them; they are to be deprecated. Some read it: The Lord deliver us from an enemy’s kisses, from lying lips, and from a deceitful tongue.

- Matthew Henry - Commentary on the Whole Bible


The best friend is a loving reprover - not a flatterer!

Open rebuke is better than secret love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend;
but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful. - Proverbs 27:5-6

What is the friend, who will be a real blessing to my soul? Is it one, that will humor my fancies, and flatter my vanity? Is it enough, that he loves my person, and would spend his time and energies in my service? This comes far short of my requirement. I am a poor, straying sinner, with a wayward will and a blinded heart; going wrong at every step. The friend for my case is one, who will watch over me with open rebuke; but a reprover, when needful; not a flatterer. The genuineness of friendship without this mark is more than doubtful; its usefulness utterly paralyzed. That secret love, that dares not risk a faithful wound, and spares rebuke, rather than inflict pain, judged by God's standard, is hatred. (Lev. XIX. 17.) Far better the wound should be probed than covered. Rebuke, kindly, considerately, and prayerfully administered, cements friendship, rather than loosens it. The contrary instances only prove, that the union had never been based upon substantial principle.

Many indeed profess their value for a true friend; and yet in the most valuable discharge of friendship, they "count him their enemy." The Apostle had some just apprehension on this account, though so wise and affectionate, and speaking from the mouth of God. (Gal. IV. 12-16.) As if the rule of friendship was, that we should absolutely "please," without reference to the Divine restriction--"for good to edification." (Rom. xv. 2.) Christian faithfulness is the only way of acting up to our profession. And much guilt lies upon the conscience in the neglect. But this open rebuke must not contravene the express rule of love-"telling the fault between thee and him alone." Too often, instead of pouring it secretly into our brother's ear, it is proclaimed through the wide medium of the world's ear; and thus it passes through a multitude of channels, before it reaches its one proper destination. The openness of the rebuke describes the free and unreserved sincerity of the heart, not necessarily the public exposure of the offender; save when the character of the offence, or the interests of others, may appear to demand it. (1 Tim. v. 20.)

But never let a false tenderness be suffered (permitted) to dilute a paramount obligation. Could Paul have answered to God for his secret love to a brother apostle, when the compromise of a fundamental principle called for open rebuke? (Gal. ii. 11-14.) Obviously however the sin should be brought to view, ere we rebuke. Nor should we vehemently reprove involuntary slips (See Ecclus. xix. 16); much less forget the exercise of a loving spirit. Leighton's gentleness gave such a power to his reproof, that rare was the repetition of the offence; rather however from shame, than from the new principle. The mark of true godliness is an anxiety to have our faults pointed out; and a thankfulness to those who undertake the self-denying office. A faithful reprover is a very great help in our Christian course. He is to be valued above the greatest treasure.' 'He that would be safe'--says one of the ancients --'must have a faithful friend, or a bitter enemy, that he may fly from vice by the monitions of the one, or the invective of the other.' Much more valuable is this faithfulness, than the smooth politeness of the world's intercourse. Nay, some defect in this courtesy may be excused for the sake of the sterling quality.

The truest friend of man--his wounds are faithful. He will not pass by a single fault in his people. He acts upon his own rule from the most considerate regard to their best welfare. And who would not choose this faithful wound, however painful at the moment of infliction, rather than the deceitful kisses of the enemy? The kiss of the apostate was a bitter ingredient in the Savior's cup of suffering. His foreknowledge of the treachery, in no degree weakened those exquisite sensibilities, which, from their intimate union with the Godhead, rendered him susceptible of suffering beyond all comprehension.

- Charles Bridges - Commentary on Proverbs


Rebuke your brother to his face

'Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people … Thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him.'-Leviticus 19:16, 17

Tale-bearing emits a threefold poison; for it injures the teller, the hearer, and the person concerning whom the tale is told. Whether the report be true or false, we are by this precept of God's Word forbidden to spread it. The reputations of the Lord's people should be very precious in our sight, and we should count it shame to help the devil to dishonor the Church and the name of the Lord. Some tongues need a bridle rather than a spur. Many glory in pulling down their brethren, as if thereby they raised themselves. Noah's wise sons cast a mantle over their father, and he who exposed him earned a fearful curse. We may ourselves one of these dark days need forbearance and silence from our brethren, let us render it cheerfully to those who require it now. Be this our family rule, and our personal bond-SPEAK EVIL OF NO MAN.

The Holy Spirit, however, permits us to censure sin, and prescribes the way in which we are to do it. It must be done by rebuking our brother to his face, not by railing behind his back. This course is manly, brotherly, Christlike, and under God's blessing will be useful. Does the flesh shrink from it? Then we must lay the greater stress upon our conscience, and keep ourselves to the work, lest by suffering sin upon our friend we become ourselves partakers of it. Hundreds have been saved from gross sins by the timely, wise, affectionate warnings of faithful ministers and brethren. Our Lord Jesus has set us a gracious example of how to deal with erring friends in His warning given to Peter, the prayer with which He preceded it, and the gentle way in which He bore with Peter's boastful denial that he needed such a caution.

- Charles Haddon Spurgeon - Morning and Evening devotional, Nov. 29, AM



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