“Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; CORRECT, REBUKE and ENCOURAGE—with great patience and careful instruction.” 2 Timothy 4:2 NIV
If you’ve ever wondered, “How do I preach God’s word?” He just told us in 2 Timothy 4:2. CORRECT, REBUKE, AND ENCOURAGE, with great patience and careful instruction.
It may seem to some that all we’re to do with God’s word is encourage one another. That sounds really good. I know I like receiving and giving Encouragement. But that is only a part of what 2 Timothy 4:2 says. We’re to correct and rebuke each other if necessary with God’s word too. I just got some heartfelt correction from my son and another friend. It was what I needed to hear. They showed me a serious flaw I need to correct. It stung a bit at first. But soon after their correction felt good to me. Because I saw that they loved me and was not afraid to tell me the truth.
“Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of a friend springs from their heartfelt advice.” Proverbs 27:9 NIV
If we fear men; what they think of us, etcetera, we won’t say a word. We’re more in love with our feelings than God at this point. What I just said may have corrected somebody. And I know it may not have felt good. But I also know it needed to be said because many of us say we love God and fellow believers but we’re too afraid to lovingly correct them. But if we only knew just how much such fear is harming us and them we would repent.
“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” 1 John 4:18 NIV
The goal behind godly correction is repentance. When you truly love someone you will be willing to give them correction. If fear keeps us from doing this how can we say we love God or our brothers and sisters when God’s word says, “There is no fear in love?” (1 John 4:18) The great part about serving God is when he shows us where we have fallen short we can repent. Please, please, let us all repent.
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23 NIV
We’ve talked about giving correction. Here are some passages that deal with accepting it:
“He is in the way of life that keepeth instruction: but he that refuseth reproof erreth.” Proverbs 10:17 KJV
“Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but whoever hates correction is stupid.” Proverbs 12:1 NIV
“A fool despiseth his father’s instruction: but he that regardeth reproof is prudent.” Proverbs 15:5 KJV
“Lord, do not your eyes look for truth? You struck them, but they felt no pain; you crushed them, but they refused correction. They made their faces harder than stone and refused to repent.” Jeremiah 5:3 NIV
If we’re God’s child He is going to correct us. He is going to show us parts of ourselves that aren’t pretty. This is all part of the process of being transformed into the image of His son Jesus Christ. And remember, the beautiful part about this is if we don’t like what we see in the mirror we can change, we can repent. God can give us the power to repent and give us a new heart. We can pray for this like David did:
“Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10 KJV
Please don’t hate correction. Please be humble and repent.
“And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.” Hebrews 12:5-11 KJV
We just read in Hebrews that God rebukes ALL OF HIS CHILDREN. In fact God himself says that if we are without chastisement from Him we are not His children but are bastards. A rebuke is a stronger form of correction. A rebuke is when God sharply disciplines us. Yes, it hurts a lot. The goal of a rebuke too is repentance. God will sometimes cause and bring us through some very tough circumstances. These are a part of our training to transform us into the image of His son Jesus Christ and get us to repent. Sometimes He may use another believer to Rebuke us. They may sharply call to our attention our unbecoming behavior. Paul had to do this to Peter:
“But when Peter came to Antioch, I had to oppose him to his face, for what he did was very wrong. When he first arrived, he ate with the Gentile believers, who were not circumcised. But afterward, when some friends of James came, Peter wouldn’t eat with the Gentiles anymore. He was afraid of criticism from these people who insisted on the necessity of circumcision. As a result, other Jewish believers followed Peter’s hypocrisy, and even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. When I saw that they were not following the truth of the gospel message, I said to Peter in front of all the others, “Since you, a Jew by birth, have discarded the Jewish laws and are living like a Gentile, why are you now trying to make these Gentiles follow the Jewish traditions?” Galatians 2:11-14 NLT
Paul called out Peter’s hypocrisy. Peter was a respected leader in God’s church. But his misconduct was affecting others in the church. This had to be dealt with. Good thing Paul loved Peter enough to tell him the truth. Paul did this to help Peter and the others to repent. We know Peter accepted Paul’s rebuke because he spoke well of Paul after this took place.
“Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as OUR DEAR BROTHER PAUL also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.” 2 Peter 3:15-16 NIV
If Peter resented Paul for rebuking him he would not have been able to speak well of him afterwards. This was not the case. Peter accepted discipline. Peter repented. If we ignore God’s rebukes we will lose in the short and long run. But if we hang in there no matter how hot the furnace gets we will be molded into who God wants us to be, yeilding the peaceful fruit of righteousness. This is the gift of those who have been trained by God’s discipline.
Who doesn’t need Encouragement? I looked up the Greek definition for the word Encourage in 2 Timothy 4:2 and I saw words like, “To beg, to strive to appease by entreaty, to comfort, strengthen, to console, beseech, to call near, invite, instruct,” etcetera. Yes, Encouragement is all of that and then some. Often correction and rebukes aren’t really necessary, only Encouragement is. Encouragement can be a milder form of correction and is a lot milder than a rebuke. We all need good encouraging words. They give us strength and comfort. I believe these kinds of words should be given as often as possible. To people in the faith and outside. People hear so much negativity these days. How good to be a person who spreads encouraging words that lift people up. Are you and I in the habit of speaking encouragement? Or do we just correct others all the time?
“But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” Matthew 12:36-37 NIV
Jesus says how we use our words is a serious matter. Hence I’d like to share with you something I believe I received from the Lord:
•Always give Encouragement
•Give correction sometimes only when necessary
•Give a rebuke only when absolutely necessary
•Be prayerful and cautious about how to do all 3
•And be willing to accept all 3
I believe Encouragement should be what we do the most. Uplifting one another should become a habit.
“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.” Proverbs 25:11 KJV
Let me say this in conclusion: though we know God’s word says at times it is necessary to correct each other, sometimes it’s best to just let things go and cover over each other’s faults and sins. Sometimes all we’re supposed to do is pray for one another. These scriptures explain that better:
“If you see any brother or sister commit a sin that does not lead to death, you should pray and God will give them life. I refer to those whose sin does not lead to death. There is a sin that leads to death. I am not saying that you should pray about that.” 1 John 5:16 NIV
“A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.” Proverbs 19:11 NIV
“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8 NIV
Please share this with a friend