preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. [2 timothy 4:2]

a few years ago one of our college students at matthias was processing through some difficult things related to switching her membership at the church she had grown up in. i offered to get together with her sometime to talk through everything and provide some counsel. and then i didn’t do that. i forgot, or i put it off, or whatever it was, i just didn’t follow through on my word to help her. months later she came to me and told me how much that had hurt her. she wasn’t just concerned about herself, but she knew that if i had done that to her that i was likely to do it to someone else.

to this day i remember that conversation. it definitely was not fun to hear how i had hurt my friend. but i am thankful for her rebuke towards me. she gave me a chance to apologize and repent to her. and while i can’t say i never fail at upholding my word, or that i’ve never forgotten about something i promised, i can say that i am aware of it and i value those interactions with people and take them much more seriously now because i understand the love (or lack thereof) that it communicates.

how often are you rebuked?

no one likes to be corrected, told they did something wrong, hurt someone, or are wrapped up in sin. it hurts to hear that. it should grieve us, and cause us to mourn our sin. but ultimately rebuke leads to the opportunity for repentance.

blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. [matthew 5:4]

a faithful friend in the Lord will not leave you sitting in sin, but will make you aware of it, rebuke you for it, and call you to mourn over it. this is what pushes us into God’s forgiveness, which is our comfort. friends are not alone in their ability to rebuke.

paul is calling timothy to rebuke through his preaching. scripture is a two-edged sword that cuts our hearts in rebuke and correction. how often are you rebuked? by your spouse, friends, preaching, scripture? usually our answer is, “not very often.” sometimes this is the result of the community around us not speaking up about the things they see in our lives. but sometimes it is because we don’t really want rebuke. even if we hear it, we deny or become defensive.

my encouragement to you today is this, ask God to rebuke you through scripture, preaching, and community. ask him to bring to your eyes the ways in which you are in rebellion against him. while this is a scary thing to ask, it ultimately will result in a deeper understanding of your need for Jesus. and that is never a bad thing.

~ keith kozlowski