Rebuke is the word the Bile uses for bringing truth to where change is needed but most of us don’t react positively when we hear it. The purpose of this chapter is to consider the biblical model of rebuke as a part of the Speak component of personal ministry. He sets forth the following principles:
- Confrontation is rooted in submission to the First Great Commandment. Love of God is the only reliable foundation for a ministry of truth speaking and any other (including anger, frustration, vengeance) distorts the process. We need to desire to draw people back into communion with God.
- Confrontation is rooted in the Second Great Commandment. Those who love others will speak, not in unrighteous anger and judgment, but a motivation of their good as the Bible sees it.
- Confrontation is our moral responsibility in every relationship. Self-sacrificial love requires patient grace as well as intolerance for sin. God’s intolerance moves Him toward the sinner to extend grace and we ought to be seeking redemption of others in the same light and not avoiding them.
- Confrontation is meant to be more of a lifestyle than an unusual event. It ought to be our habit of daily living with others in love rather than saving it for what we think are extraordinary circumstances. The Scriptures call us all to this “one to another” exhortation daily.
- We fail to confront in love because we have yielded to subtle and passive forms of hatred. One example is favoritism where we extend grace only to those inside our small circle. Another is grudge bearing where we keep records of what others have done against us.
- We fail to confront because we have yielded to more active forms of hatred. These include injustice, gossip, and revenge.
- Confrontation flows out of a recognition of our identity as the children of God. We have been chosen by Him and we are no longer our own.
- Proper biblical confrontation is never motivated by impatience, frustration, hurt, or anger. We need to have a humble, honest lifestyle of rebuke borne out of love for Christ and neighbor.
- Confrontation does not force a person to deal with you, but places him before the Lord. We want the person to change borne out of the grace of God in their lives.
Having set forth these principles, Tripp reminds that Biblical confrontation must begin with each of us. We must examine our own hearts for thoughts, motive, or attitudes that could get in the way of what God intends to do. Rebuke may be ineffective if spiritual preparation is not made by the person confronting. If we do not start with our own hearts we may turn moments of ministry into moments of anger, we may personalize what is not personal, we may be adversarial in our approach, we may confuse our opinions with God’s will, or we may settle for quick solutions that do not address the heart.
Next, Tripp notes that Biblical confrontation must start with the right goals after we have prepared our hearts. He notes that it is important to keep in the fore that we all need loving, honest rebuke because of wrong and unbiblical thinking (Num 11, Ps 73), emotional thinking, or that our view of life (God, self, others, the solution) tends to be shaped by our experiences. Our rebuke can only be equal to these challenges if we keep two goals in mind: (1) we must desire to be used as one of God’s instruments of seeing in the lives of others and not trying to advance our opinions but helping others to see themselves in the mirror of God’s Word; (2) we must desire to be used by God as an agent of repentance. We want a change of heart that results in a change in the direction of others’ lives through the working of the Spirit by the Word.
Tripp concludes this chapter with the admonishment that we must not leave the Gospel at the door in our counseling. It is a great temptation to emphasize law over gospel in order to get repentance. Paul repeatedly testifies that it is God’s kindness that leads us to repentance (Rom 2:4). It is the love of Christ that compels us to stop living for self and to live for him (2 Cor 5:14) We should not only confront people with failure and sin but confront them with the gospel. Our goal of confrontation is not to force behavioral change but to encourage people’s new natures with the gospel.