A well timed encouragement can pull me out of self-pity. A well timed rebuke can sting me out of lethargy and inaction. I would argue that the latter often packs more of a punch, and effects the greatest change. When a good man or woman reveals a weakness in you, prepare to hear God speak through them.
It is an uncomfortable pain that took hold of me when I received words of rebuke this past Lord's Day. But there was a marked difference between my response now and my response last year when a similar conversation took place. Last year I balked. Last year I justified my own path and philosophies. Last year I had my fingers jammed into many ears. Lah, lah, lah! I can't hear you! This day, I truly heard, and my heart broke at the truth of it. And now I have to get to work.
Yes, there is such a thing as malicious critique. And, yes, it happens in the church all the time. These "rebukes" come from people who do not look inwardly at their own hearts, but are eager to put others in their place. Such people are used to strike uncertainty into the hearts of faithful people. However, there is a rebuke that is life-giving. The Bible says so. It comes out of love to awaken the unwary, the apathetic, the lazy, the oblivious among us. Yesterday it came to awaken me.
My stung pride is healing, and I am beginning to labour. I will not let wise words fall to the ground.