Love is a beautiful thing.
Love is the driving motivation that leads us to marriage, parenthood, and friendship. Love gives us passions, pursuits, and goals. Love is the reason for favorite foods, movies, genres, and hobbies.
Love is the reason for so much.
Arguably, love is the strongest thing on this planet.
However, our society often misconstrues love. And thus, the true definition of love is often lost.
Proof of this is seen often. A simple look at your television will reveal results of the confusion of the meaning of love. However, a glance at the world around you will further drive the point home.
From a biblical standpoint, we know that love is from above. God is love, and Jesus is the perfect example of love. We are called to love and to love greatly.
John 15:12-13 says this: “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”
How did Jesus love? The New Testament exemplifies this love.
Jesus loved everyone. Not just those in His friendship circle; not just those in the church; not just those who “deserved” it.
Jesus walked and ministered with simple people. He ate with sinners. He talked with people that, according to customs of that time, He was not meant to talk to. When challenged to condemn a woman caught in adultery, He defended her.
Jesus accepted all. Tax collectors, fishermen, rich people, poor people, new converts, sinners, sick, diseased, and disabled folks — all were accepted by Christ.
Jesus loved unconditionally. Even when His disciples made a mistake, He accepted them back and even heaped blessings upon them.
However, contrary to many teachings these days, love does not end here.
Those who have read of Jesus’ ministry in the New Testament can attest to this. Although Jesus loved everyone, accepted everyone, and loved them unconditionally, it doesn’t mean He permitted the sin to remain.
When flipping through the pages of the New Testament, particularly in the Gospels, one can see many rebukes from Christian leaders, disciples, and — namely — Jesus.
Jesus often rebuked his disciples and those he came into contact with. To rebuke means to “express sharp disapproval or criticism of (someone) because of their behavior or actions,” and although this may seem harsh, Jesus only performed this action out of love.
Throughout His ministry on this Earth, Jesus rebuked the Pharisees (religious leaders of that time), common people, sinners, and His disciples — yes, His disciples.
For those unfamiliar with scripture, the followers of Christ were called disciples. These disciples lived with, fellowshipped with, learned from, and modeled their lives after Jesus. Although He started out with a great many followers, only twelve remained until the end.
One instance of the aforementioned rebuke is recorded in Matthew 16. In verse six, Jesus warns, “Watch out! Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”
Continuing to verse seven through twelve, it says, “At this they [the disciples] began to argue with each other because they hadn’t brought any bread. Jesus knew what they were saying, so he said, “You have so little faith! Why are you arguing with each other about having no bread? Don’t you understand even yet? Don’t you remember the 5,000 I fed with five loaves, and the baskets of leftovers you picked up? Or the 4,000 I fed with seven loaves, and the large baskets of leftovers you picked up? Why can’t you understand that I’m not talking about bread? So again I say, ‘Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.’” Then at last they understood that he wasn’t speaking about the yeast in bread, but about the deceptive teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”
Here, we can observe Jesus correcting His disciples by saying “you have so little faith” and asking “why are you arguing”. He goes on to remind them of His past miracles, and again repeats the message He gave so the disciples could understand.
Jesus corrected, reminded, and reiterated in order to help the disciples.
Later in that same chapter, Jesus asked the disciples who people say He is; then, He asked them who they think He is. Immediately, Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” (v. 16).
In verse 17 Jesus replied, “You are blessed…” He went on to tell Peter that he would be the rock on which He would build the church and that the powers of hell could not conquer it. He also said, “And I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven.”
That’s such an amazing thing to say to Peter! Look at what Peter had been blessed with. Jesus clearly loved and trusted Peter. If He entrusted this much power, authority, and influence on someone, then He must surely love them.
This is where I make my point. From reading this and observing other interactions throughout the Gospels, one can ascertain that Jesus loved His disciples. He loved Peter. Yet, Jesus still rebuked Peter.
In Matthew 16:21, Jesus tells the disciples what will happen to Him. Starting in verse 22 it says, “But Peter took him aside and began to reprimand him for saying such things…Jesus turned to Peter and said, ‘Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.’”
I used to read this and think Jesus was being a bit harsh. How could He call His friend Satan? From my point of view, this was harsh and rude. It seemed uncalled for. However, looking now through a lens of understanding, I get it.
Jesus wasn’t being unnecessarily harsh; He was rebuking Him in love.
Oftentimes, the world views correction as a negative thing. When things we do or say are pointed out to us as wrong, we get offended. When things we do are told “could use improvement” we get offended and hurt.
And while I can often naturally fall into this category, I’ve come to a realization that I’d like to share:
Correction and rebukes are not judgement; it’s love.
According to the dictionary, love is defined as “an intense feeling of deep affection.” However, if you were to make your way to the Urban Dictionary, you’d see it described as “The act of caring and giving to someone else. Having someone’s best interest and wellbeing as a priority in your life”.
If someone loves you, they should have your best interest in mind. So if you’re preparing to make a mistake, and your friend knows and doesn’t say anything, wouldn’t that be wrong?
If you left your wallet at a restaurant, and your friend saw and didn’t say anything, wouldn’t that be wrong?
The same is true for the big things too. I’m not just speaking of the little moments, but if you see someone in sin; if you see a Christian doing or saying something contrary to the Word; if you don’t speak up and out in love, then you’re in the wrong.
Christians, we have to stop being so scared of offending people, and start praying for the spirit of offense to flee.
We have the responsibility to correct people in love, and we need to start walking in it.
We, as Christians, are called to love, and if we don’t patiently and lovingly correct someone, we’re in the wrong.
Notice I continue to (in bold) say “in love”, because there are those who will correct others in a manner that’s out of line. Sometimes, a person issuing correction is wrong or out of line, which is why the Bible says this in Matthew 7:3-5:
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
Here, it is saying that you cannot correct one person on something, when you have your own issues to correct. That’s not to say that you must be perfect to correct, but you should constantly strive to have your life line up with the Word before you begin to dictate how others should do it. If you’re living wrong, how can you instruct others to live right? You can’t. You’d become a hypocrite.
Rebukes and corrections should be made by someone who is pursuing Christ passionately, strives to live each day according to His Word, and knows His Word. They should be made in love, and not in judgement. And we should always remember these things: no one is perfect, and everyone falls short (including us); these are our brothers and sisters in Christ, they are the sons and daughters of the Most High, and deserve to be treated with respect and love; and they might still be learning.
Those receiving correction, and we all will at some point in our lives, read this scripture from Proverbs 3:11-12:
“My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.”
Although God speaks to us in many ways, He often uses people as His mouthpiece. So when a person lovingly corrects, do not resent the advice or the person. Consider, instead, that this might be God speaking to you through them.
Take what was said to you and search scripture. Make sure this person is correct, and what they say lines up with the Word of God. If needed, seek wise counsel on the subject. But if it lines up with the Word, then it’s time to take the correction, rebuke, or advice and apply it to our lives.
As stated in the above scripture, God disciplines those He loves. So today, let’s start accepting it.
Let’s stop despising the rebukes. Let’s stop resenting correction and discipline, and instead accept it.
Remember, it’s not always judgement. It’s love. Let’s spread it.
Maddisen Sauls is the smile and voice behind the Everyday Joy blog as well as the author of the Word of the Week posts and the editor of by leaps and bounds. Throughout her life, Maddisen has worked as a reporter for small town newspapers, a School Age and Preschool teacher, and has acquired her ministerial license.
An avid book reader and lover of the written word, Maddisen is passionate about using her favorite medium to reach the lost and the hurting, and to offer encouragement and hope to those struggling through life.
Following her battle with depression, Maddisen has made it her mission to help other people through this journey and to bring joy to the lives of the people around her.
You can find Maddisen on Instagram @maddisen.paige