Titus 2:15 – These, then, are the things you should teach. Encourage and rebuke with all authority. Do not let anyone despise you. (NIV)
It's amazing to find "encourage" and "rebuke" in the same sentence. Usually, they are complete opposites and don't have anything to do with one another. If we were to hear the same words today in a sentence, it would probably read "encourage them for their gifts; don't rebuke them for their faults."
I played field hockey for my senior high team. It was the nearest sport in school that allowed participants to carry weapons. Anyone who has been clobbered with a hockey stick, or whacked in the head with one, will know how fierce the game can be. I played every Saturday morning and ended up being the captain because I was the highest goal scorer in the league.
Success went to my head, and I put together a proposal to display all the players' names on a board, rating each of them with one to five stars for every game that was played. I went to the coach with my idea, but he shot it down in flames. Firstly, he knew that I wanted to give myself five stars for every game, but more importantly, he didn't want to discourage the other players if they had a bad game. That's when he said the line to me which I've remembered: "Encourage the other players for their gifts, John; don't rebuke them for their faults."
Why does Paul put both those words in the same sentence? Because the church has the power to encourage people in faith, and the responsibility to rebuke or redirect them when they go wrong. We all like encouragement, praise, and recognition for what we do in church, but sometimes, we also need to be made aware of God's disapproval for the sinful things we do inside and outside of the church. It's a hard lesson to learn at times, but it's necessary that we all go through it, in order to keep us on the right road that leads us to eternal life.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, we love the ways in which You embrace our ideas, enthusiasm, and excitement for our church. We take great encouragement from the blessings You bestow and the goodness that You give us. However, sometimes, we allow pride, prejudice, greed, and anger to diminish our faith and even destroy our personal witness of You. In those times, rebuke and redirect us, reprove and restore us by Your mercy and grace. In Your holy name, we pray. Amen.