Tearing Down to Build Up

Rebecca Van Noord

It’s difficult to take rebuke, especially when it’s unsolicited. We feel exposed and embarrassed when our sin is brought to light. And if we don’t have the humility to accept rebuke, the experience can leave us at odds with the brave soul who assumes the task.

For Paul, who rebuked the Corinthians, news of their love was a relief and comfort to him: “But God, who comforts the humble, comforted us by the coming of Titus, and not only by his coming, but also by the comfort with which he was comforted among you, because he reported to us your longing, your mourning, your zeal for me, so that I rejoiced even more” (2 Cor 7:6–7).

We form community when others challenge us and encourage us to live for God. While community can fulfill our social needs, it’s this common purpose that draws us together. When we take rebuke graciously and seek forgiveness from God, it forges the bond of community. 

When we rebel, or when we’re sensitive and prideful, it creates a rift. Because the Corinthians felt sorrow for their sin and expressed concern for Paul, it solidified their relationship. And it comforted him and brought him incredible joy during conflict and trial.

Surprisingly, the rebuked person often has to be intentional about extending love and comfort to the one who brings the rebuke. Paul tells the Corinthians to “make room for us in your hearts” (2 Cor 7:2). We should do the same for those in our community. Not all people possess Paul’s zeal and boldness, so we should prepare ourselves to graciously accept correction when it comes—solicited or not. Reaching out to those around us and letting them know we appreciate their rebuke will help build up a community that is authentically following Jesus.

Do others approach you about your sin? If you haven’t been rebuked recently, how can you make yourself more approachable?

This article was originally published in Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan.