Open rebuke is better than love carefully concealed. Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful (Proverbs 27:5-6).
Many people think that if you walk in love, you’re always full of joy and acceptance of everybody and everything around you. Well, those who walk in love are full of joy, but they don’t necessarily accept everything! Love does have a sweet side, but the agape love placed in a believer’s heart by the Holy Spirit also has a confrontational side to it!
Peter had just announced by Holy Spirit revelation that Jesus was the Son of God. And Jesus commended him for his honest confession. But just a moment later Jesus looked at Peter and said get behind Me Satan!
Jesus loved the crowds by preaching truth and healing the sick. But when approached by questioning Pharisees, He called them hypocrites and white washed tombs full of dead men’s bones. Talk about a rebuke!
When we walk in love and are led by the Spirit, there will be times that He will direct us to lovingly confront a situation that is bringing or may eventually bring harm. Sometimes the most loving thing you can do is challenge the person whose actions and choices are hurting others. The alcoholic or drug addicted husband and father who acts irresponsibly and harms the family in so many ways needs loving confrontation. The person sowing malicious remarks about others needs loving confrontation. The list is endless of life issues that need to be confronted rather than ignored.
One attribute of agape love found in 1 Corinthians 13:6 is that love does not rejoice in iniquity but rejoices in truth. One Bible expositor says about this verse that love happily stands on the side of truth. Love isn’t silent about unfair actions that hurt others.
Love is silent when persecuted personally. When someone’s actions are unkind and selfish, a loving person will take no account of the evil done to them, and will pay no attention to a suffered wrong (Amplified – 1 Corinthians 13:5).
The difference is when others are hurt by a person’s irresponsible or selfish behavior, love will confront. He who rebukes a man will find more favor afterward than he who flatters with the tongue (Proverbs 28:23).
This doesn’t mean that we assume a Gestapo personality. We certainly don’t need to take over the Holy Spirit’s job of dealing with us when we get off track!
But there is a place for loving confrontation. Don’t run from this. When nudged by the Spirit of God, pray and obey in the tough situations that need to be dealt with. The outcome may save a person from ruin.