Building Better Relationships — Week 5 Reflections, Part 2

August 18, 2006


I didn’t realize at first that this was going to be a multi-part post, but there were two main trains of thought in this chapter and the more I tried to write about both of them, the more jumbled my own thoughts seemed. Part 1 of my analysis of this week’s reading dealt with the relationship between gossip and confrontation. This part will deal with rebuking and admonishing (addressing the conflict).

First, a distinction. Rebuking emphasizes “You have sinned.” Admonishing (which means “a putting in mind”) emphasizes “Let me tell you what the Bible says about this problem.” I was reminded of a stoplight, where rebuking would be a red light and admonishing would be a yellow light.

Jesus sharply rebuked anyone who sinned against God or led others into sin. He never defended himself against personal attack. Reading over the Scriptures listed below, we discover we should rebuke based on what Scripture says, with patience and respect.

The author wisely points out that if we compare the number of times in the Bible that we are told to love one another with the number of times we are told to admonish or rebuke, we will see that Scripture emphasizes unconditional love. “When we totally accept others in love and with prayers for the thorn in our side, the Holy Spirit is free to correct and convince the other of thoughtless or sinful behavior. Our criticism usually changes no one.”

Finally, with regard to admonishment, the author offers us some very important questions to ask ourselves before we speak:

1. Do I have the grace to overlook this behavior and not talk to anyone else about it? If so, I will forgive and forget.

2. Will this person’s behavior hurt only me? If so, I will not admonish, remembering Proverbs 19:11 (People with good sense restrain their anger; they earn esteem by overlooking wrongs.- NLT)

3. What are my motives? Do I have the other person’s best interest at heart, or do I want to straighten out his or her behavior because I am irritated? If I cannot correct in love, I will not speak.

4. Is this an opportunity to forgive others as God forgives me? Is my judging attitude the problem rather than the other person’s behavior? If so, I will not speak.

The basic message of this chapter was that we should overlook our grievances against others whenever possible, but to not turn to gossip in lieu of confrontation. And when we do confront another, we should do so based on what Scripture says, not for our own selfish reasons.

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