Knowing When To Admonish Someone

Image by Ryan McGuire from Pixabay

Admonishing the sinner is seen as a spiritual work of mercy, but sometimes it can be seen as no easy task. Unless you’ve got the stomach for it, going around admonishing people for their behaviour (provided you are not engaged in it yourself) will make you lose many newcomers to the world again and get you more enemies. Furthermore, it can make the person engaged in rebuking another lose their own peace if they’re not ready to deal with the angry responses.

It’s crucial that you don’t have a wicked person correcting another wicked person. Have you ever been witness to such a circus? Both become like the blind leading each other into a pit, a vicious circle in which even blows are exchanged. That is why it’s important to root out the wickedness that exists in all of us before admonishing another.

Consider what the scriptures say.

Correct a mocker and you make an enemy; rebuke a wicked man, you get insult in return. Do not rebuke the mocker, he will only hate you, rebuke a wise man and he will love you for it.

Proverbs:9:7-8

I cannot tell you the amount of times I’ve encountered torrents of abuse from correcting not just irreligious people, but Christians too. It’s vital to know who it is you’re correcting, and to weigh up beforehand if such a correction is even at all going to be well received by that person. It’s also more difficult to correct a person whom you don’t know versus who you are already familiar with. If you know that person to be of good character, and that they will readily understand your gentle reprimand, then by all means go ahead.

But if the person has yet to get off his high horse of all things secular in nature, you could be wasting your time. It is rare for anyone of a wicked spirit to accept correction about things he considers as “normal” behaviour. To such a one you will seem crazy, someone to be derided, and you will even end up making a lifelong enemy. If you’re trying to convert that person you may do them damage by driving them away from the community before they’ve barely got a foot in the door.

Therefore, strategic conversation in which you know your enemy (I don’t mean the person but the spirit of wickedness that encompasses him) and being able to converse in a way that neglects confrontation is key here. I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve failed at this, and you will fail too. The rule is just a general one and it’s not full proof.

Why does a person of this sort get angry at your rebuke? It is because you are exposing their sinful behaviour, so they react in a fit of anger. The devil is being exposed, and by using their ignorance brings himself forth through their anger taking hold of them to do so. There are two things then at play, the devil and themselves who are predisposed to their sinful nature. They don’t know that and it’s especially important not to make them aware of that fact because they’re too new to the faith. It will generate even more anger from them and cause them more damage.

It is better to be silent, drip feeding them Christianity, gently introducing them to the opposite of what the world has taught them. The cure of a person whose predisposition is to be like the world, is a very lengthy process completely brought about by Grace. The Sacraments, Prayer, Grace, and good books that teach humility are generally the best approach. Remember, they are a victim not an enemy, but you make them one by your foolish behaviour.

Many people think they’re doing a great service to the Lord by rebuking a person of this sort when in fact they’re crucifying Him. Souls are very important to God, and we will answer for how we went about rebuking such a one. For one Christian a heavy rebuke is fine if you have preexisting knowledge they’ve handled it well in the past. Not so great if you don’t know them. Would you drive around an island without a map or GPS? Then how are you supposed to effectively navigate the outcome of a persons behaviour you do not know?

With all of that said, you are going to rebuke Christians you’re familiar with being in the Church for many years, who will react with anger. Why? Because we are sinful human beings and burying old habits isn’t something done overnight. I myself have found taking some rebukes rather difficult. But there are those who wrestle with it, managing it well, and those who blindly give in because they don’t know any better like converts for example.

Therefore, be careful how you treat them because the Lord is always watching and we will answer for every unfounded word.

So I tell you this, that for every unfounded word men utter they will answer on Judgment day, since it is by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words condemned.”

Matthew 12:36-37

God bless

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