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When Cultural Modesty Hinders Gospel Conviction!

In a culture of Confucian-politeness, it is easy to succumb to the temptations of pleasing men rather than speaking the truth in love.  I sometimes wonder if our Gospel-motivation and conviction can be displaced by our cultural modesty, because it is always tempting to play the “gentleman” like everyone else.  What do we do as leaders when reprove is called for?

1. Proverbs 27:5 “Better is open rebuke than hidden love.”  

  • If you love your brother, have the courage to rebuke him; don’t hide your love from him for that would be no love at all.

2. Proverbs 27:6 “Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.”

  • You may be wounded by a friend because of an open rebuke, but that will bring health to your soul in the end, rather than an enemy who kisses you multiple times in your face and back-stabs when you are wrong.

3. Proverbs 29:5  “Whoever flatters his neighbor is spreading a net for his feet.”

  • If you truly love your neighbor you would not flatter him, because in doing so you would be spreading a net for his spiritual progress.  Likewise, a person who flatters you does not truly seek your growth.

4. “Whoever rebukes a man will afterward find more favor than he who flatters with his tongue” (Proverbs 28: 23). 

Flattery, though it may taste sweet for a moment, will turn out to be a deadly poison in your soul.  A rebuke, though it may first taste bitter, will turn out to be medicine in the end.

  • Beware of people who flatter; appreciate those who have the humility and courage to reprove.  Though it may be cutting and wounding, and give you some pain; yet when you coolly consider the nature of the reproof, the manner in which it was given, and the design of it, you will love, value, and esteem your faithful friend and rebuker, more than the man that almost always flatter you.  Your real friends will want your progress and growth.
  • When it’s necessary, man-up and reprove your friend.  Do it with gentleness and patience.  Your time, tone, attitude and demeanor — all communicate messages to your friend, therefore do it in a spirit of gentleness (Note: Gentleness is one of the fruits of the Spirit- Galatians 5: 23). 

Remember, the goal is to restore your friend:

“Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted” (Galatians 6: 1).

Culture greatly affects our use of scripture!

2 Timothy 3: 16 "All Scripture is breathed out by God
and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction,
and for training in righteousness"

We usually take the first and last purposes of scripture seriously (“for teaching” and “for training in righteousness”)  but cultural modesty in a post modern society hinders us from “reproof” and “correction.”   This is because, in our relativistic modern culture, the word “arrogance” is hijacked to refer to conviction; and “humility” to uncertainty.

Don’t let cultural modesty hinder your Gospel-motivation and conviction to reprove others when necessary.  But be humble enough to receive the grace that comes with correction when you need one.


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