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TEXT: Proverbs 27:5

SUBJECT: Proverbs #12: How to Rebuke


"To reprove" simply means "to correct bad behavior". In describing it, the Inspired Sages use various Hebrew words, which give us much insight as to its exact nature, as for example:

It is sometimes translated from GARA, which literally means "to expose or uncover". Thus, in reproving another, you must--to use the words of our Lord--"Tell him his fault".

More commonly, however, it comes from YAKAH, a forensic term which means "to judge and condemn". Reproof, therefore, must never be offered rashly, but only after the evidence has been weighed, and the man found wanting.

At other times, it derives from MUSAR, which means "to educate or train a child". Thus reproof seeks to do more than censure bad behavior. It longs rather, for its correction.

Reproof is described in two figures of speech. It is likened to:

The discipline of a child. "A fool despises his father's instruction, but he who receives reproof is prudent" (15:5). In reproving our brethren, we must act as father with a misbehaving child, rather than a taskmaster with a runaway slave.

The punishment of a criminal. "Reproof is more effective for a wise man than a hundred stripes on a fool" (17:10). Therefore, when rebuking others, we must act with the impartiality of a judge rather than the passion of a "lynch mob".

From the vocabulary and figures, we derive the three elements necessary to a godly rebuke:

Sufficient grounds. It may proceed only upon reasonable proof rather than a suspicious hunch.

Serious deliberation. It must never occur rashly but only after reflection.

The good of the offender. It must aim for the correction of the rebuked.

Reproof, at its best is found throughout the Scripture, only two examples of which I will presently cite:

Nathan's rebuke of David, II Samuel 12:1-7a.

Paul's reprimand of Peter, Galatians 2:11-14a.

When you rebuke, therefore, you must expose another's sin, prove its sinfulness, for the purpose of correcting him.


Reproof is not an option to be exercised at your whim. It is a serious duty, laid upon you by God. Such a doctrine is easily proved by an appeal to Scripture.

The Mosaic Code commanded it. "You shall not hate your brother in your heart. You shall surely rebuke your neighbor and not bear sin because of him" (Leviticus 19:17).

And this is not a ceremonial regulation, intact only until the coming of Christ. It is a moral responsibility, to be borne until the end of the Age. For our Lord, Himself, ratified this interpretation with these words, "Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him" (Luke 17:3).

Neither is it confined to the Gospel Accounts, for it is also found throughout the Epistles, as in I Thessalonians 5:14a,"Warn the unruly".

The conclusion, is inexorable.

Sin is the transgression of the Law.

But the Law commands rebuke.

Therefore, when you do not rebuke, you sin.

This, of course, is a special duty of the minister. It is part of his calling (II Timothy 4:2). It is to be done authoritatively (Titus 2:15). When necessary, it must even be done publicly (I Timothy 5:20).

But this responsibility does not lie with him alone. It is a universal duty of all of God's people. (Matthew 18:15ff, Galatians 6:1).

If, therefore, you see your brother overtaken in a serious fault and do nothing about it, because "Its not your calling", then give ear to the Divine conclusion:

You are acting carnally. Galatians 6:1.

You are his enemy. Proverbs 27:6.

You hate him. Leviticus 19:17.


Godly rebuke is pointed.

Not vague, give example.

"Rod, wounds, stripes, etc."

Godly rebuke is principled.

Not based upon bigotry, opinion, etc. But Scripture.

Godly rebuke is offered with due regard to one's age, sex, and position.

Godly rebuke is meek, cf. Proverbs 15:1 (Saul and Jonathan) with Galatians 6:1.

Godly rebuke is aimed at the promotion of holiness.

This means that it is offered for the welfare of the offender rather than his destruction.

But the heart is deceitful. How do you know if you are rightly motivated?

If you can take rebuke as well as you can give it, then you are rightly motivated. For if you aim to promote holiness above everything else, then you desire your own holiness as well as someone else's.

Exa. "Busting heads".


Consider its alternatives, which are, as I see it, only four.





Consider its great blessings.

To you. If you rebuke your sinning friend, then you become "a friend indeed". You, furthermore, earn his respect and love, 25:12, 28:23.

To him. You will promote his sanctification, 19:25, 21:11.

You will edify the church. You will glorify God.

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