5 Ways to Rebuke a Friend

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity. Proverbs 17:17

Wounds from a friend can be trusted… Proverbs 27:6

rebuke |ri’byook|verb [trans.]
express sharp disapproval or criticism of (someone) because of their behavior or actions

Years ago in high school, I had a friend tell me I was hanging out with the wrong people. I listened to the advice, switched my sphere of influence, and looking back, it’s one of the best decisions I ever made, considering the different paths our lives took.

That’s only one example. Thankfully, there have been many other times a friend loved me enough to help me see the mistakes I was making. Usually I knew, but the rebuke challenged me to alter my ways. I’ve had to “return the favor” many times.

There are times when you have to rebuke a friend in order to be a true friend. Sometimes, the most loving thing you can do is to tell another where he or she is doing wrong. You may be the only one who cares enough to point out what everyone else sees but refuses to address.

If you choose to accept the assignment of rebuking a friend, you should be sure you are correct in your assessment, you should pray through the correct timing of your approach, and you should address the person and not others to keep from spreading gossip.

When that time comes, here are 5 ways to rebuke a friend:

Be loving

As we should do with everything, rebuke should come in the context of a loving relationship. In fact, one standard might be to not rebuke people you don’t love.

Be truthful

Don’t dance around or use subtleties when addressing the issue. State the problem as you see it.

Be helpful

Be willing to walk through any necessary recovery with the friend or help them process where they are in life.

Be purposeful

The rebuke should not be vindictive in nature or driven by jealousy or selfish interests. The betterment of the friend should be your sole objective.

Be redemptive

Be willing to extend grace and forgive the friend for any wrong done. Make sure he or she knows you are still in their corner.  

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Ron Edmondson
Ron Edmondson is a pastor and church leader passionate about planting churches, helping established churches thrive, and assisting pastors and those in ministry think through leadership, strategy and life. Ron has over 20 years business experience, mostly as a self-employed business owner, and he's been helping churches grow vocationally for over 10 years.