Proverbs 9:8: Do not rebuke mockers or they will hate you; rebuke the wise and they will love you.
Proverbs 10:8: The wise in heart accept commands, but a chattering fool comes to ruin.
Proverbs 15:1: A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
Compassion can sometimes take on the role of loving discipline. Part of our responsibility to fellow Christians is to restore those who have wandered off into sin. But in our urgency to help, we sometimes miss the how. Quite often what was meant to save a life from harm, ends in disaster. Instruction can often land like a bomb, exploding into anger. Wisdom is rejected simply because of the delivery method, closing ears to the truth that could rescue them.
Paul speaks about the how in 1 Corinthians 13 saying beginning with, If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
1 Corinthians 13:1
Paul knows that you can win more people to God’s way of thinking by gentle persuasion than by hostile confrontation. He does not want God’s lifesaving words to fall on deaf ears. The way we go about pointing out another’s wrong doings does matter. The love Paul is talking about in the verse is agape love. This kind of love is active. It is patient and kind. It is not motivated by envy or pride. It never dishonors. It is selfless, not easily angered, and does not count up all the wrongs a person has done. It never is happy with evil and rejoices in truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. So, if our words of God’s wisdom are going to do what they need to do, perhaps they should be delivered in the manner He would deliver them.
But, our loving delivery does not always guarantee a godly response from those we are trying to help. The above verses from Proverbs point out that some people are not in a place to receive what we have to share because they aren’t rightly connected to God, and they don’t have the humility to receive correction. When this happens, we need to pray for a change of heart in them (and always make sure our heart is humble and teachable).
How did you react the last time you were disciplined? Were the words you heard ones that reflected God’s love and concern? Have you been rejected when trying to lovingly correct someone?