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No one likes to be rebuked, even when they deserve it. In that moment, it feels like we are being beaten up emotionally; our heart feels tight, our face turns red, we don’t know where to look, and if we look down to the ground our humiliation seems even more visible. We want to defend ourselves immediately – after all, it is not our intention to make mistakes. However, when we justify ourselves we end up hurting ourselves more in front of the one reprimanding us: they interpret it as us refusing to accept correction when all we wanted to do was be understood.
Alright, so what? What’s the point of having them understand our mistakes? Do you know what happens to someone who avoids correction? They become an easy prey for deception.
I was reading the book of Hebrews this weekend and a passage that spoke about rebuke stood out to me:
“But exhort one another daily, while it is called ‘Today’, lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.” Hebrews 3:13
Definition of ‘exhort’
Verb: To urge, advise, or caution earnestly; admonish urgently. The president exhorted the army to enter the borough.
Verb: To give urgent advice, recommendations, or warnings. I exhorted the students to act according to their thoughts.
To me, exhorting is not only these dictionary definitions, but also a rebuke. How will you motivate someone who does not want your advice? How will you warn someone who is in the wrong? Sometimes, to exhort someone, we need to rebuke them. According to the passage in Hebrews, it is necessary to do this every day.
Imagine if you had to be exhorted every day. Normally, when this happens, a person thinks they’re being rejected, despised, not liked by anyone like everyone is ganging up on them, that everyone wants to see them give up, or that they aren’t strong enough… but are these things true?
Think with me. Who would you motivate and rebuke: someone you want to help improve or someone who doesn’t make a difference to you? The answer is obvious. Personally, I exhort everyone, but with some people, I breathe down their neck! One of them is my sister, poor thing, though she has grown used to it. Some of my closest friends are also exhorted frequently… Even all of you are exhorted too, right? It’s done here on this blog, through the Godllywood self-help meetings, in the Love Therapy, the Love School… See how exhortation does us good?
Exhortation doesn’t just help us become better people but also helps us safeguard ourselves against the deceit of sin; in other words, when no one exhorts us, we are easily deceived by our corrupt human nature.
I remember a time that I was exhorted – more like rebuked – by my father for crying uncontrollably due to a disappointment that I experienced with my son. I remember my father saying: ‘Stop crying! Look forward! One day you will use this story to help other mums. On the outside, I only looked at him, but inside, it was as though he wasn’t acknowledging my pain as if I had no right to feel anything. It wasn’t easy. I obeyed, but the tears wouldn’t stop running down my face. Today, I see how my father was right and how that rebuke helped me, but imagine if I had given myself over to the pain I was feeling. I would certainly have entered depression.
Friends, take advantage of the exhortations that sometimes come as rebukes! Do not hide from them, do not run from them; they are part of our personal growth. Sometimes we are unable to see ourselves clearly and only someone else can point out the hole we’re about to fall into.
This is one more reason for you to be diligent in going to church, for living your faith far from the House of God is spiritual suicide!