Being rebuked by God is a good thing. It is a statement that God loves us.
No, I am not kidding.
Sin is bad, yes, so the fact that we sin is not good in itself.
Getting rebuked can be very painful and humbling, sure, so the rebuke itself is not fun.
But our hearts are wicked and tend to lead us astray. If left to ourselves, we would stay in that lost state wallowing in our sins. We would never get ourselves out of the trouble we brought on.
But God doesn’t leave us there. He sends correction and discipline as an act of complete mercy. We don’t deserve a second, third or hundredth chance to do what we should have done right the first time. We often don’t even think we need correction at the time and are angry to receive it.
Yet, despite our self-sufficiency and pride, God loves us too much to leave us swimming in the filth of the world.
He sends rebuke to open our eyes and free us and not to hurt us.
The question then is what we do with it?
Our response to God’s rebuke makes all the difference in the world.
What do we do when we are rebuked? Fight, take flight or admit that He is right?
Saul was the first King of Israel. He was anointed by God. At times, he was filled with the Spirit and did great things in God. He was also a wicked sinner.
David was the second King of Israel. He was anointed by God. At times, he was also filled with the Spirit and also did awesome things in God. David was also a wicked sinner.
If we compare the lives of these two kings, they are very similar in many ways. Yet Saul died along with his family under judgment from the Lord.
David is beloved of God. He is called the man after God’s own heart.
What accounts for such a hugely different ending for these two kings? If they both sinned greatly, why is Saul a lesson on disobedience while Jesus is called “Son of David”?
One word: Repentance. It is the first word of public ministry of John the Baptist and Jesus. It is the first message of the Apostles.
Repentance caused David to return to God’s path even after his passions led him astray. Lack of repentance led Saul further into the darkness of his sins and hardened his heart to God. It is a simple thing to admit what God already knows is true but it is the difference between life and death.
When David sinned and his heart was not right, we see him over and over in the Bible on his face before the Lord begging for forgiveness. His whole life depends upon getting right with the Lord. He chose to admit God was right, kind of obvious and did everything possible to fix himself.
He does not shy away from the Lords rebuke, no matter how bad the pain is that goes along with it. Even after his young son with Bathsheba dies as a result of their sin, David’s hope is still in his future in the Lord.
David trusts that he will see his son again. This simple statement involves great trust by David in God, in heaven, and in God’s grace and mercy. He is a murderous, adulterous sinner in the midst of a judgment he knows is from God. Yet, he knows that God is greater than David’s own faults.
In contrast, Saul never responds to the Lord’s correction with repentance. He is often sorry about getting consequences. He is very quick to make excuses and eager to pass blame onto others. He is always trying to fix things. Look at Saul’s response when he is confronted by Samuel for usurping the role of priest and offering a sacrifice:
Saul said, “When I saw that the people were scattered from me, and that you did not come within the days appointed, and that the Philistines gathered together at Michmash, 12 then I said, ‘The Philistines will now come down on me at Gilgal, and I have not made supplication to the Lord.’ Therefore I felt compelled, and offered a burnt offering:
And Samuel said, “What have you done?”
Saul said, “When I saw that the people were scattered from me, and that you did not come within the days appointed, and that the Philistines gathered together at Michmash, 12 then I said, ‘The Philistines will now come down on me at Gilgal, and I have not made supplication to the Lord.’ Therefore I felt compelled, and offered a burnt offering.” 1 Samuel 13
Did we see Saul’s tactics here? It is Samuel’s fault. It is the people’s fault. It is the Philistine’s fault. Saul had no choice but to disobey God according to Saul. It is everyone else’s fault but his.
Samuel responds simply and directly:
13 And Samuel said to Saul, “You have done foolishly. You have not kept the commandment of the Lordyour God, which He commanded you.
Saul takes no responsibility. He never actually repents. He appears to understand that he is in trouble. He understands that God is not pleased with him. He even tries to get out of trouble. But he never simply falls on his knees before the Lord and asks to be made right. His depends upon his own judgment and scheming rather than the promises of God.
It displays his clear lack of understanding of God’s nature and character. God wants to show us love and mercy, we just need to seek them from Him. He wants to rescue us, we just need to want to be rescued.
Two kings with vastly different outcomes with the Lord. Which do we want to be?
God corrected me last week about scarring on my soul. I was disappointed and hurt by the actions of others in ministry and in life. I felt that they had let me down and allowed that pain to fester. I allowed it dictate not only my feelings toward them but how I was relating to them.
They had let me down in ways that they are not strong so I decided that I wasn’t going to open myself up to that again. I wouldn’t do X because they never did Y.
It was in a complaint disguised as a prayer to the Lord over this that I was rebuked.
“Lord, I can’t believe that they are so bad at that”, I complained, “Why did they not seek you for help Lord so they did not let me down”, I prayed.
The Lord’s response?
He showed me that they did pray and yes, they are bad at the things that I noted. He agreed that it was wrong what they did and did not whitewash my hurt. It was real and God cared about it. But He also pointed out that their weakness is exactly why they were brought to me.
The Lord showed me the problem in an area that I am strong so I could help them with it, not resent them for it. It was supposed to be the Body of Christ working together and discipling one another, not an exercise in self righteousness. “Why are you so focused on you?”, was the Lord’s gentle rebuke.
It quite frankly stung initially.
But once I saw what the Lord was telling me, the extent of my own sin, and agreed with His judgment, the dam that had formed in my spirit seemed to bust open. Accepting the rebuke and letting go of my own sin removed the scar tissue on my heart. It allowed it to beat as God intended again.
I rejoice at what God did. I am thankful He showed me how wrong I was.
Jesus loved those who failed Him. He did not resent them. He was hurt by them on a regular basis and yet He laid down everything for them. He then told us to do the same.
Accepting God’s rebuke in this area allowed my heart to get back in line with Jesus’. That is always a wonderful thing.
When we have gotten ourselves good and deep in our sin and folly, it is really hard to let go of our pride and admit it. Because God loves us, He sends us correction and rebuke in different forms to motivate us in this process.
He does not do this to hurt us or because He hates us. He does it simply out of love. God so loves us that He is willing to tell us when we are wrong.
Are we willing to listen?