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When I think back to all of the things God has ever asked of me, the most dreaded and unpleasant task has been when led to issue a rebuke to another sister.

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What is a rebuke exactly?
According to the definition by BibleGateway, it is “A verbal expression of blame. Scripture gives examples of both divine and human rebuke. Sometimes God issues rebukes directly but more commonly He did so through the OT prophets. In the NT Jesus Christ and the apostles issue rebukes and teach the church how to address those who sin.”

Strong’s Concordance describes a rebuke as “tell a fault” and “reprove”.

Simply, a rebuke is when one believer addresses another believer’s sin with the hope that s/he will repent. Examples of sins we may be asked to address is marital misconduct, disobedience to God and substance abuse, to name a few.

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BUT before you take off…there are seven questions you should ask yourself:
1) Am I Being God led?
2) Am I close enough to this person?
3) Am I too emotional or judgmental?
4) How will I deliver the rebuke?
5) What will I say?
6) Do I have sin in my own life that needs to be addressed first?
7) Am I at peace with the thought of losing this relationship?

1) Am I Being God led?
I have to feel sure that God is leading me to rebuke a person. Because I have the Spiritual gift of prophecy, I have strong opinions about right and wrong and injustices, and I want to speak my thoughts about those things accordingly. BUT, just because I may want to speak my mind about someone else’s sin does not mean I should.

Typically, I believe God will only lead women to rebuke women and men to rebuke men unless there is some type of familial connection. As a married woman, I am not going to rebuke another man in the Church, and men should not rebuke another man’s wife (I say this, “not the Lord” – borrowed from the Apostle Paul; 1 Corinthians 7:12).

I have to be able to discern if God is leading me to say something. I do this by taking note of when and how I feel prompted by the Holy Spirit to do such a thing by recording it in my prayer journal. I then simply wait for a confirmation.

2) Am I close enough to this person?
If I am not in a loving friendship with the intended recipient of the rebuke I need to reconsider if I am the one to do it. No one enjoys being rebuked, especially by someone they do not know well. It is even worse if that person does not know you at all or thinks you don’t like them. They will feel judged and not admonished, and yes, there is a difference.

Feeling judged has a negative connotation, while admonishment feels a little more caring and sincere.

3) Am I too emotional or judgmental to issue the rebuke right now?
A rebuke must be done in love. It is natural to become righteously indignant over sin, but our goal is not to demonstrate our indignation, but to reprove a person in hopes that they will turn from their sin.

4) How will I deliver the rebuke?
Next, you have to decide how to deliver this rebuke that is more than likely going to result in an AWKWARD moment. God may give you a vision for doing it face-to-face, by phone, by email or letter. It may even be done by text, if that moment comes up that way. I’ve known before that God was leading me in that direction and then before I knew it I was in the middle of the right opportunity to share what God had laid on my heart. I’ve got to be prepared and brave enough to follow through with it, even if it is via texting.

When a believer is succumbing to sin, they typically stop interacting with other believers and begin withdrawing, so it is important that we are up and equal to the task with the timing and opportunity provided no matter how informal of a vehicle it is. It may not sound ideal, but we live in a fast-paced world where people communicate more quickly and informally than ever before, so when God opens a door, we need to go through it. If you can successfully get a face-to-face meeting go for it, but if not, proceed boldly.

5) What will I say?
Please make sure to share scripture, whatever you say. Think through how you are going to start the conversation, what responses may come up, and how you are going to stay on task without being distracted by their misguided reasoning. One thing that I always think is good to communicate – is that your only desire is to give them faithful counsel as a friend whom is reaching out to them on God’s behalf in hopes that they will turn from their sin and return back into a right relationship with God.

When said sincerely, and not angrily, the recipient’s heart will be softened.

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 2 Timothy 3:16

6) Do I have sin in my own life that needs to be addressed first?
If you are engaged in your own private sins or under the bondage of some kind of sinful stronghold, more than likely you are either A) not the person to issue the rebuke or B) it is not time for you to issue the rebuke until you deal with your own sins.

How can you say to your brother or sister, ‘Let me take the splinter out of your eye,’ when there’s a log in your eye? You deceive yourself! First take the log out of your eye, and then you’ll see clearly to take the splinter out of your brother’s or sister’s eye. Matthew 7:4-5

7) Am I at peace with the thought of losing this friendship?
I’ve been called upon to issue three formal rebukes to sisters in Christ. One was a friend whom I loved like a sister and the other two were women whom had asked me to be their mentor. Two of the three relationships are still intact, even though one of them was temporarily severed. It is a sad and difficult thing to lose a friend, but it is much more important to be obedient to the Lord.

I remember when I was in a season of rebellion. It was after my divorce and I had become discouraged by dating again, thinking that I would never find a Christian man who would really love me. Being a divorced woman in the church is NO FUN! After a serious heartbreak, I told God that I didn’t need Him for that because I could get that all on my own…so off I went…Thankfully, I had sisters who were not going to just sit by and let me go on that way. They took turns mailing me letters rebuking my sinful behavior.

I would read their letters and roll my eyes, but I knew deep in my heart that they loved me and longed for me to return to an obedient life in Christ. When a Christian is involved in sin they have a tendency to surround themselves with more of the world to ease their conscience, so it is good and right to try to keep an opposite, godly viewpoint in front of them so that the Holy Spirit may continue to convict them.

Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses. Proverbs. 27:6

When God calls you to issue a rebuke, take comfort my dear sisters in the safety of these 7 checkpoints. When you are at peace with all of them, you know it is time to move forward.

Whoever obeys his command will come to no harm, and the wise heart will know the proper time and procedure. Ecclesiastes 8:5

In the event, you are in a leadership role at church, and called upon by the pastor to help address a situation, proceed with much prayer, and guidance from your pastor.

I am confident that you now have a fail-proof strategy for issuing a rebuke when called upon. Do you have some Godly –inspired pointers to share? I would like to hear them.

Dear Guest,

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Author Gina Duke is a wife, mother and Director of Women’s Ministry at her local church. Gina is also a speaker with a B.S. in Organizational Leadership. She is able to bring a clear word for authentic Christian living. Through her book, “Organizing Your Prayer Closet: A New and Life-Changing Way to Pray” (Abingdon Press), she imparts 1 Peter 4:7 with the gift of structured prayer journaling. Ms. Duke also blogs and offers numerous videos and resources at GinaDuke.com. You may also follow her on Twitter and Instagram @TheGinaDuke.

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