These, then, are the things you should teach. Encourage and rebuke with all authority. Do not let anyone despise you. Titus 2:16
This sounds impossible, doesn’t it? How can I keep someone from despising me? I may have earned their dislike and perhaps I can remedy that. But if their dislike is righteous persecution, Jesus says that I should expect to be hated. Others can also despise me because there’s a bias not rooted in truth. Their vision is skewed. So, what gives with all of this?
Paul thought this so important that he wrote about it two other times.
No one, then, should treat him with contempt. Send him on his way in peace so that he may return to me. I am expecting him along with the brothers. (1 Corinthians 16:11)
No one, then, should treat him with contempt. Send him on his way in peace so that he may return to me. I am expecting him along with the brothers. (1 Timothy 4:12)
Paul is saying that I should give no one reason to despise me by how I live, and more specifically, by how I encourage and rebuke. Both can be off-putting if done in the flesh.
Encouragement can come across as a putdown. Haven’t you gotten unsolicited spiritual advice? They said it was to encourage you, but it felt like you didn’t measure up. You should be more like them. This caused you to feel animosity toward the ‘encourager’. Perhaps even despise them – if their words were delivered with a condemning spirit. To encourage is to ‘give courage.’ No one ever inspired bravery with a put down.
Rebuking is equally difficult. To do it in a way that doesn’t leave the other person disliking you is almost impossible without the Spirit of God in charge of the words and the spirit of the delivery.
The most effective parenting, with regard to encouraging and rebuking, is accomplished with similar tones. There is loving concern, perhaps even tears, along with words that implore. If the interaction was caught on silent film, it would be difficult to tell which one the parent was doing. Encouraging or rebuking. So similar is the way this love is expressed.
Titus is being told by Paul that it’s possible to encourage and rebuke, with authority, in a way that constrains others to know that whether they agree with him or not, they would know that he loved them. Through it all, his heart was communicated. He was also to live in such a way that there was not a double standard. He was not to be guilty of the very things for which he was rebuked.
I cannot afford to have spiritual conversations without examining my own heart. What are my motives? Why am I encouraging? Why am I rebuking? Is it for the reasons You did it, Jesus? Show me. Amen