If you hang around certain Christians you may hear the word “rebuke.” It’s a tough word so not everyone uses it. It’s one of those words you can use to muscle your way around spiritually. A rebuke is simply a sharp form of criticism or disapproval. It’s basically a biblical way to say that this is not cool and needs to stop now. So you can see why it’s a tough muscular type word. It’s a word for those with some authority. That being said, who can you rebuke?
Well in the Bible people can be rebuked. In this sense it’s used between someone who is wise and someone who is foolish or in need of correction (Proverbs 9:8). When Peter didn’t quite get what Jesus was saying about dying on the cross he took him aside and rebuked him (Matthew 16:22). Even Jesus got rebuked although it was uncalled for. We’ve all more than likely been rebuked at some point although we probably never called it that. Usually rebukes happen when there is a close relationship. Say it with me “Rebukes are for relationships.” You can’t just go around expressing your criticism or disapproval to random people you are not connected to.
Rebukes are also used on Satan. The book of Jude chapter 1 verse talks about how Michael the archangel told Satan “the Lord rebuke you!” So in effect Michael didn’t actually rebuke Satan, he appealed to a higher authority. He basically said the Lord disapproves of you. Many Christians now say this when they believe that Satan is involved in stopping their plans or attacking them spiritually. This has it’s place but the Bible mostly talks about rebuking other people.
We should receive and give rebukes. It’s not only in the Bible but it’s commanded by the Bible. In Leviticus 19:17 Moses gives instruction to the Israelites to rebuke their neighbors and speak to them frankly so that they would not be guilty and share in the other person’s sin. It sounds so obnoxious in our very sensitive individualistic postmodern culture. To give a rebuke may sound like you are “in someone’s business.” The thing is rebukes are meant for stopping people from making foolish and harmful choices. Rebukes are life savers and that’s the business we’re in as Christians.