How To Sell Reproof
Many churches now have their young men, and inexperienced men, making talks on Wednesday nights and on certain Lords Days of each month. It is good training, wholly in keeping with the priesthood of believers. But. we repeatedly notice the tendency of such men to select highly controversial subjects, or to become critics of some supposed congregational error. As a rule, they are incompetent as exegetes, and their criticisms are resented though they may be tolerated. I not only hear the congregations complaints; I note the frustration of the zealous young men.
For many of them it is their first opportunity to take the lead, crack the whip. Too, it is much easier to champion a cause (sometimes motivated by a pet hobby or resentment of some real or imagined injustice) than it is to objectively study and present a subject. But even when the criticism is needed, thought must be given to the qualifications of a critic.
The most severe critic contends, This is for your own good. He believes this — but to accomplish that good, the recipients must believe it. Getting them to believe it is half the battle — and the first half. They must feel we have walked in their shoes, or have a real and sympathetic understanding of the situation. They must have confidence in our motives.
Scriptures guide us in building such confidence. Jn. 7:24 tells us to judge righteous judgment, not superficially or at a glance. Use divine rather than human standards (Jn. 8 :15). One need not be perfect (without sin) in order to reprove, rebuke, exhort (2 Tim. 4:2), but it must be done with all longsuffering and teaching. Ye who are spiritual (Gal. 6:1) points to Spirit led brethren, circumcised in heart, saints whose genuineness is apparent in their lives. All sin, but these remove the beam from their own eye before seeking to take the mote from a brothers eye (Matt. 7:1-5).
Reproof in love must never be an excuse for no reproof but such correction is done with kindness, not puffed up, not easily provoked. It tends to look to the good side rather than to the evil; and rejoices not in evil when found (1 Cor. 13:4-6). For some reasons, not too obscure, people seem to take reproof more readily from this kind of critic.
The epistle of Jude exhorts brethren to contend earnestly for the faith. for, Jude says, ungodly men have crept in privily denying our only Lord and Master. Jude denounces these false teachers in no uncertain terms (vs. 8-16). But ye, beloved, remember ye the apostles warnings. But ye, beloved, build u p your faith, pray, keep yourselves in the love of God (17-20). That is, first, you must prepare and keep yourselves in a proper state or condition. Then, (22-23, A.S.), (a) convict those who dispute with you; (b) some, you can influence and snatch from the fire of temptation; (c) some, you may not be able to convict, nor to influence; but you can have compassion, give loving help as possible — but stand back in fear of their deadly error. (See Alford, Pulpit Corn., etc.) As sinners differ, so must the rebuke!!