You shall not hate your brother in your heart: you shall in any wise rebuke your neighbor, and not suffer sin on him.
I. EXPLAIN THE DUTY. "We are members one of another." Then I may not act with a view to myself alone. If there be thus an obligation on me, from the very fact of my creation, to have reference in all which I do to the benefit of my brethren, how am I to shift off from myself the duty of brotherly admonition or reproof? If I see that a brother or neighbour is pursuing a course which is likely to provoke God's wrath, and must issue in ruin, then it can be no matter of option with me; I must be altogether and grievously at fault if I "suffer sin upon him," and do not strive to bring him to repentance and amendment. It is bound on us that we do this by word, seeking to set faithfully before the offender the bitter consequences of his offence-invoking him by his hopes and his fears that he turn away from evil. The righteous have not protested against wickedness by boldly separating themselves from it. They have denounced heresy and impiety, but they have not been sufficiently diligent in digging the gulf or throwing up the rampart between themselves and those whom they profess to rebuke.
II. STATE RULES AND MOTIVES.
1. There must be a diligent and prayerful observation of both the relative and the absolute circumstances of the offending party, so that we may decide whether the interference is likely to be spurned as an unwarrantable intrusion or provoke to additional sin.
2. Supposing that neither of these results be likely to follow, and supposing the offending party is one who, if I reproach, he may probably be advantaged by reproof, then we give, as a second rule, that an exact proportion should be preserved between the offence committed and the rebuke which it receives. It is very easy, but, at the same time, infinitely removed from all that is Christian, to upbraid the shiner in place of rebuking the sin. Whereas, if we would act up to the spirit of our text, the rebuke should never part from our lips which has not the double object of love for the offender and hatred of the offence. The brotherly correction, which alone can be expected to work its way to the heart, must bear upon itself the evident marks of having been dictated by genuine affection.
3. The reproof should be given privately rather than publicly.
4. If you hope that your admonition may carry any weight, take heed that you be not yourself chargeable with the fault that you reprove in another. The force of example is vastly greater than that of words, and the reproof which rebounds on itself leaves no permanent impression on the rock against which it was thrown.
5. These are simple rules, which you may all understand and apply. Their motives are so involved in them that it is unnecessary to multiply reasons urging to the duty under review. Enough for us to know that he who neglects the duty suffers sin on his brother; enough for us to be assured that "they who turn many to righteousness shall shine as stars for ever and ever." And equipped with the fear of partaking in the guilt which we do not rebuke, and with the hope of securing the glories of those who turn souls to the Lord, we have all which can brace us up to the vigorous effort of checking the rule and progress of impiety.
(H. Melvill, B. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him.