June 2004
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The Rebuke From A Friend

Never will I forget the rebuke I received from a friend when I was 17. He walked into the back of the butcher shop where I worked and saw me laughing at an indecent cartoon. He said he had admired my Christian character, and was surprised that I would laugh at something sinful and degrading. Instantly a wave of embarrassment swept over me. I shamefully admitted that I had sinned.

It’s not pleasant to be rebuked, nor is it easy to rebuke another person. So I can imagine that the apostle Paul didn’t like confronting Peter (Galatians 2:11). But he felt he had to, because Peter’s hypocritical behavior was hurtful and confusing to the Gentile converts at Antioch. Peter had freely eaten with them, but after some Jews from Jerusalem came to the Antioch church, he shunned the Gentiles, fearing the Jews’ disapproval. I imagine that he felt shame, but he apparently accepted the rebuke gracefully and changed his ways. He knew that Paul was a true friend who loved him. And in later years he referred to him as “our beloved brother Paul” (2 Peter 3:15).

If you must rebuke someone, do it gently. If you are rebuked, avoid an angry response. You may be getting a needed “faithful wound” from a friend.

A friend will gently say what's true,
Although it may cause pain;
He's really thinking of our good
And what we stand to gain. —D. De Haan

A true friend will put a finger on your faults without rubbing them in.