You shall not hate your brother in your heart: you shall in any wise rebuke your neighbor, and not suffer sin on him.
I. WHAT DUTY IS ENJOINED, AND WHAT SHOULD BE REBUKED.
1. TO tell any one of his fault, "Thou shalt not suffer sin upon him." Sin, therefore, is the thing we are called to reprove, or rather him that commits sin. Do all we can to convince him of his fault, and lead him in the right way.
2. Love requires that we should also warn him of error, which would naturally lead to sin.
3. Avoid reproving for anything that is disputable.
II. WHO THEY ARE WE ARE CALLED TO REPROVE.
1. There are some sinners we are forbidden to rebuke. "Cast not your pearls before swine."
2. Our "neighbour" is every child of man, all that have souls to be saved.
3. The reproving is not to be done in the same degree to every one. First, it is particularly done to our parents, if needing it; then to brothers and sisters; then to relatives; then to our servants; to our fellow-citizens; members of the same religious society; watch over each other that we may not suffer sin upon our brother. To neglect this is to "hate our brother in our heart"; and "he that hateth his brother is a murderer." It imperils our own salvation to neglect this duty.
III. WHAT SPIRIT AND MANNER SHOULD MARK OUR PERFORMANCE OF THIS DUTY.
1. There is considerable difficulty in doing it aright. Although some are specially qualified to do it by grace, and skilful by practice. But, though difficult, we must do it; and God will aid us.
2. How most effectual? When done in "the spirit of love," of tender goodwill fur our neighbour, as for one who is the son of our common Father, as for one for whom Christ died, that he might be a partaker of salvation.
3. Yet speak in the spirit of humility. "Not think of yourself more highly than you ought to think." Not feeling or showing the least contempt of those whom you reprove; disclaiming all self-superiority; owning the good there is in him.
4. In the spirit of meekness. "For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God." Anger begets anger, not holiness.
5. Put no trust in yourself; in your wisdom or abilities; speak in the spirit of prayer.
6. And as for the outward manner, as well as the spirit, in which it should be done; let there be a frank outspokenness, a plain and artless declaration of disinterested love. It will pierce like lightning.
7. With great seriousness, showing that you are really in earnest. A ludicrous reproof makes little impression, or is taken ill.
8. Yet there are exceptions when a little well-placed raillery will pierce deeper than solid argument. "Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes."
9. Adapt the manner to the occasion. By few or many words as the situation determines; or by no words at all, but a look, a gesture, a sigh. Such silent reproof may be attended by the power of God.
10. Watch for a fair occasion. "A word spoken in season, how good it is." Catch the time when his mind is soft and mild.
11. But should a man be left alone when intoxicated? I dare not say so; for instances are forthcoming of a reproof then having had good effects. Despise not the poor drunkard. Many of them are self-condemned, but they despair. He that tells a man there is no help for him is a liar from the beginning. "Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world."
12. You that are diligent in this labour of love be not discouraged. You have need of patience.
(John Wesley, M. A.)
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.