The Pains of Rebuking
2 Corinthians 2:4
For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote to you with many tears; not that you should be grieved…

I. THESE ARE VERY REAL TO GRACIOUS NATURES. Some delight to castigate; but they are not gracious or noble - they are rather fitted to feel the rod than to wield it. An affectionate parent often suffers more than his chastened child; a faithful pastor than the rebuked Church member. Paul said that if he came to Corinth he would not spare; before he came, he did not spare himself. There was grief at Corinth, but as much or more in Macedonia. Joy in causing suffering is a mark f degradation. We condemn pleasure obtained from cruel sports; pleasure obtained from wounding minds is even more barbaric and revolting. We may feel compelled to rebuke, and that sharply. We can never be justified in extracting joy from the suffering occasioned.


1. There is evidence of qualification to rebuke. The rebuke does not spring from personal feeling.

2. Undue harshness will be avoided.

3. A gracious tenderness is likely to permeate the severest rebuke.

4. If known to the rebuked, a salutary influence will be exercised. Nothing is more irritating or hardening than to be rebuked by one who evidently enjoys his office. But if the one who points out our fault is evidently deeply pained himself, we must be very obdurate if we are insensible to such an appeal. The wayward child is conquered, not by the rod in his mother's hand, but by the tears in her eyes.

III. THE OBJECT OF RIGHT REBUKING IS NOT THE PAIN OF THE REBUKED. This should ever be kept in mind. We are not judges to pass sentences of mere punishment. We may grieve our fellows, but only for their good. We may cause pain, but only as a means to something else. Castigation is a beginning, not an end. We have effected nothing except failure if we have merely caused sorrow. It is a thankless task indeed merely to make men sad. It is a noble one to make them sad that we may make them holier.

IV. RIGHT REBUKING IS EVIDENCE OF MUCH LOVE. Not to suffer sin upon our neighbour is a great duty; but the best natures are apt to shrink from reproving. Great love will compel them, as it did Paul. We often cannot show our love more conclusively. It may not at once be apparent to men, but it will to God - and to men by and by. The strongest evidence of Paul's love for the Corinthian Church was exhibited in the rod which he held over it. So of God himself: those whom he loves he chastens. (Hebrews 12:6). - H.

Parallel Verses
KJV: For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears; not that ye should be grieved, but that ye might know the love which I have more abundantly unto you.

WEB: For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote to you with many tears, not that you should be made sorry, but that you might know the love that I have so abundantly for you.

Sympathy in Grief and Joy
Top of Page
Top of Page