April 14: Tearing Down to Build Up
Deuteronomy 28:1–68; 2 Corinthians 7:2–7; Psalm 41
It’s difficult to take rebuke, especially when it’s unsolicited. We feel exposed and embarrassed when our sin is brought to light. And if we don’t have the humility to accept rebuke, the experience can leave us at odds with the brave soul who assumes the task.
For Paul, who rebuked the Corinthians, news of their love was a relief and comfort to him: “But God, who comforts the humble, comforted us by the coming of Titus, and not only by his coming, but also by the comfort with which he was comforted among you, because he reported to us your longing, your mourning, your zeal for me, so that I rejoiced even more” (2 Cor 7:6–7).
We form community when others challenge us and encourage us to live for God. While community can fulfill our social needs, it’s this common purpose that draws us together. When we take rebuke graciously and seek forgiveness from God, it forges the bond of community. When we rebel, or when we’re sensitive and prideful, it creates a rift. Because the Corinthians felt sorrow for their sin and expressed concern for Paul, it solidified their relationship. And it comforted him and brought him incredible joy during conflict and trial.
Surprisingly, the rebuked person often has to be intentional about extending love and comfort to the one who brings the rebuke. Paul tells the Corinthians to “make room for us in your hearts” (2 Cor 7:2). We should do the same for those in our community. Not all people possess Paul’s zeal and boldness, so we should prepare ourselves to graciously accept correction when it comes—solicited or not. Reaching out to those around us and letting them know we appreciate their rebuke will help build up a community that is authentically following Jesus.
Do others approach you about your sin? If you haven’t been rebuked recently, how can you make yourself more approachable?
REBECCA VAN NOORD
- If thou shalt obey diligently the voice of the Lord thy God, and observe and do all his commandments, which I commanded thee this day, then the Lord thy God will set thee on high above all the nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt obey the voice of the Lord thy God. Blessed shalt thou be in the city, and blessed also in the field. Blessed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy ground, and the fruit of thy cattle, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep. Blessed shall be thy basket and thy dough. Blessed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and blessed also when thou goest out. The Lord shall cause thine enemies that rise against thee, to fall thy face: they shall come out against thee one way, and shall flee before thee seven ways. The Lord shall command the blessing to be with thee in thy store houses, and in all that thou settest thine hand to, and will bless thee in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee. The Lord shall make thee an holy people unto himself, as he hath sworn unto thee, if thou shalt keep the commandment of the Lord thy God, and walk in his ways. Then all people of the earth shall see that the Name of the Lord is called upon over thee, and they shall be afraid of thee. And the Lord shall make thee the head, and not the tail, and thou shalt be above only, and shalt not be beneath, if thou obey the commandments of the Lord thy God which I command thee this day, to keep and to do them. But thou shalt not decline from any of the words, which I command you this day, either to the right hand or to the left, to go after other gods to serve them. But if thou wilt not obey the voice of the Lord thy God, to keep and to do all his commandments, and his ordinances, which I command thee this day, then all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee. Cursed shalt thou be in the town, and cursed also in the field. Cursed shall thy basket be, and thy dough. Cursed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy land, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep. Cursed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and cursed also when thou goest out. The Lord shall send upon thee cursing, trouble, and shame, in all that which thou settest thine hand to do, until thou be destroyed, and perish quickly, because of the wickedness of thy works, whereby thou hast forsaken me. The Lord shall make the pestilence cleave unto thee, until he hath consumed thee from the land, whither thou goest to posses it. The Lord shall smite thee with a consumption, and with the fever, and with a burning ague, and with fervent heat, and with the sword, and with blasting, and with the mildew, and they shall pursue thee until thou perish. And thine heaven that is over thine head shall be brass, and the earth that is under thee, iron. The Lord shall give thee for the rain of thy land, dust and ashes: even from heaven shall it come down upon thee, until thou be destroyed. And the Lord shall cause thee to fall before thine enemies: thou shalt come out one way against them, and shalt flee seven ways before them, and shalt be scattered through all the kingdoms of the earth. And thy carcass shall be meat unto all fowls of the air, and unto the beasts of the earth, and none shall fray them away. The Lord will smite thee with the botch of Egypt, and with the hemmorhoids, and with the scab, and with the itch, that thou canst not be healed. And the Lord shall smite thee with madness, and with blindness, and with atoning of heart. Thou shalt also grope at noon days, as the blind gropeth in darkness, and shalt not propser in thy ways: thou shalt never but be oppressed with wrong, and be prowled evermore, and no man shall succor thee. Thou shalt betroth a wife, and another man shall lie with her: thou shalt build an house, and shalt not dwell therein: thou shalt plant a vineyard, and shalt not eat the fruit. Thine ox shall be slain before thine eyes, and thou shalt not eat thereof: thine ass shall be violently taken away before thy face, and shall not be restored to thee; thy sheep shall be given unto thine enemies, and no man shall rescue them for thee. Thy sons and thy daughters shall be given unto another people, and thine eyes shall still look for them, even till they fall out, and there shall be no power in the hand. The fruit of thy land and all thy labors shall a people which thou knowest not, eat, and thou shalt never but suffer wrong, and violence always: So that thou shalt be mad for the sight which thine eyes shall see. The Lord shall smite thee in the knees, and in the thighs, with a sore botch, that thou canst not be healed: even from the sole of the foot unto the top of thine head. The Lord shall bring thee and thy King (which thou shalt set over thee) unto a nation, which neither thou nor thy fathers have known, and there thou shalt serve other gods: even wood and stone, And thou shalt be a wonder, a proverb and a common talk among all people, whither the Lord shall carry thee. Thou shalt carry out much seed into the field, and shalt gather but little in: for the grasshoppers shall destroy it. Thou shalt plant a vineyard, and dress it, but shalt neither drink of the wine, nor gather the grapes: for the worms shall eat it. Thou shalt have Olive trees in all thy coasts, but shalt not anoint thyself with the oil: for thine olives shall fall. Thou shalt beget sons and daughters, but shalt not have them: for they shall go into captivity. All thy trees and fruit of thy land shall the grasshopper consume. The stranger that is among you, shall climb above the tree up on high, and thou shalt come down beneath alow. He shall lend thee, and thou shalt not lend him: he shall be the head, and thou shalt be the tail. Moreover, all these curses shall come upon thee, and shall pursue thee and overtake thee, till thou be destroyed, because thou obeyest not the voice of the Lord thy God, to keep his commandments, and his ordinances, which he commanded thee: And they shall be upon thee for signs and wonders, and upon thy seed forever, Because thou servedst not the Lord thy God with joyfulness, and with a good heart, for the abundance of all things. Therefore thou shalt serve thine enemies which the Lord shall send upon thee, in hunger and in thirst, and in nakedness, and in need of all things: and he shall put a yoke of iron upon thy neck until he have destroyed thee. The Lord shall bring a nation upon thee from far, even from the end of the world, flying swift as an eagle: a nation whose tongue thou shalt not understand: A nation of a fierce countenance, which will not regard the person of the old, nor have compassion of the young. The same shall eat the fruits of thy cattle, and the fruit of thy land, until thou be destroyed, and he shall leave thee neither wheat, wine, nor oil, neither the incense of thy kine, nor the flocks of thy sheep, until he have brought thee to naught. And he shall besiege thee in all thy cities, until thine high and strong walls fall down, wherein thou trustedst in all the land: and he shall besiege thee in all thy cities throughout all thy land, which the Lord thy God hath given thee. And thou shalt eat the fruit of thy body, even the flesh of thy sons and thy daughters, which the Lord thy God hath given thee, during the siege and straitness wherein thine enemies shall enclose thee: So that the man (that is tender and exceeding dainty among you,) shall be grieved at his brother, and at his wife that lieth in his bosom, and at the remnant of his children, which he hath yet left, For fear of giving unto any of them of the flesh of his children, whom he shall eat, because he hath nothing left him in that siege, and straitness wherewith thine enemy shall besiege thee in all the cities. The tender and dainty woman among you, which never would venture to set the sole of her foot upon the ground (for her soft and tenderness) shall be grieved at her husband that lieth in her bosom, and at her son, and at her daughter, And at her afterbirth (that shall come out from between her feet) and at her children, which she shall bear: for when all things lack, she shall eat them secretly, during the siege and straightness wherewith thine enemy shall besiege thee in thy cities. If thou wilt not keep and do all the words of the Law (that are written in this book) and fear this glorious and fearful Name, THE LORD THY GOD, Then the Lord will make thy plagues wonderful, and the plagues of thy seed, even great plagues, and of long continuance, and sore diseases and of long durance. Moreover, he will bring upon thee all the diseases of Egypt, whereof thou wast afraid, and they shall cleave unto thee. And every sickness, and every plague, which is not written in the book of this Law, will the Lord heap upon thee, until thou be destroyed. And ye shall be left few in number, where ye were as the stars of heaven in multitude, because thou wouldest not obey the voice of the Lord thy God. And as the Lord hath rejoiced over you, to do you good, and to multiply you, so he will rejoice over you, to destroy you, and bring you to naught, and ye shall be rooted out of the land, whither thou goest to possess it. And the Lord shall scatter thee among all people from the one end of the world unto the other, and there thou shalt serve other gods, which thou hast not known, nor thy fathers, even wood and stone. Also among these nations thou shalt find no rest, neither shall the sole of thy foot have rest: for the Lord shall give thee there a trembling heart, and looking to return till thine eyes fall out, and a sorrowful mind. And thy life shall hang before thee, and thou shalt fear both night and day, and shalt have none assurance of thy life. In the morning thou shalt say, Would God it were evening, and at the evening thou shalt say, Would God it were morning, for the fear of thine heart, which thou shalt fear, and for the sight of thine eyes, which thou shalt see. And the Lord shall bring thee into Egypt again with ships by the way, whereof I said unto thee, Thou shalt see it no more again: and there ye shall sell yourselves unto your enemies for bondmen and bondwomen, and there shall be no buyer. Deuteronomy 28:1–68
- Receive us: we have done wrong to no man: we have corrupted no man: we have defrauded no man. I speak it not to your condemnation: for I have said before, that ye are in our hearts, to die and live together. I use great boldness of speech toward you: I rejoice greatly in you: I am filled with comfort, and am exceeding joyous in all our tribulation. For when we were come into Macedonia, our flesh had no rest, but we were troubled on every side, fightings without, and terrors within. But God, that comforteth the abject, comforted us at the coming of Titus: And not by his coming only, but also by the consolation wherewith he was comforted of you, when he told us your great desire, your mourning, your fervent mind to me ward, so that I rejoice much more. 2 Corinthians 7:2–7
- Blessed is he that judgeth wisely of the poor: the Lord shall deliver him in the time of trouble. The Lord will keep him and preserve him alive, he shall be blessed upon the earth: and thou wilt not deliver him unto the will of his enemies. The Lord will strengthen him upon the bed of sorrow: thou hast turned all his bed in his sickness. Therefore I said, Lord have mercy upon me: heal my soul, for I have sinned against thee. Mine enemies speak evil of me, he speaketh lies, but his heart heapeth iniquity within him, and when he cometh forth, he telleth it. All they that hate me whisper together against me: even against me do they imagine mine hurt. A mischief is light upon him, and he that lieth, shall no more rise. Yea, my familiar friend, whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up the heel against me. Therefore, O Lord, have mercy upon me, and raise me up: so shall I reward them. By this I know that thou favorest me, because mine enemy doth not triumph against me. And as for me thou upholdest me in mine integrity, and dost set me before thy face forever. Blessed be the Lord God of Irael world without end. So be it, even so be it. Psalm 41