The Ministry of Rebuke – and How to Receive It

Shaun Willcock
Bible Based Ministries


No one likes to be rebuked. From childhood, our natures rebel against any form of reproof, rebuke, or censure. But in the course of our lives we may experience rebukes, at different times, which wise men and women will take to heart for their own good: children will be rebuked by their parents, at times employees will be rebuked by their employers – and at times Christians will be rebuked by ministers of the Gospel. This is, in fact, a vital duty of the Christian ministry, although it is by far the most unpleasant one, and very difficult for any minister. Yet do it he must, at times, even though he risks the anger and resentment of those he has to rebuke. On this the Scriptures are clear.

But how should the true Christian respond to such rebukes, when he or she is on the receiving end of them?

It is perfectly natural, according to the flesh, that the initial feeling may be one of resentment, indignation, self-justification, or even anger. I say it is natural according to the flesh; but it is not right. It is very difficult for a minister to issue a rebuke, and it is usually very difficult for a believer to be at the receiving end of one; but even so, the Bible is very clear as to what his response should be.

Sadly, it is all too frequently the case that when a Gospel minister issues a rebuke, the professing believer who is at the receiving end of it responds in a fleshly, and thus sinful, manner. Many professing Christians appear willing to be in subjection to the Gospel ministry, but this is only the case as long as the ministrations of the shepherd do not touch a sensitive chord; the moment they do, there is an angry, self-justifying response that is completely unbiblical. How they kick at this, and retaliate by “shooting the messenger” instead of heeding the message he brings! The accusations fly that he is “too harsh”, “too censorious”, etc.

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