Rebuke on Deaf Ears
“The church is required to take care of me if my husband dies. That's what the church is for, to take care of widows,” the woman said angrily. (Her husband was standing beside her, completely healthy.) She mentioned the fact that the church hadn't paid her medical bills, and she was furious about that. She had a sense of entitlement. Oddly, her unsaved relatives were sending her money, but she was throwing it back in their faces, telling them that God would provide for her.
“God IS providing for you, through your family,” I said. “You need to accept the money. Even according to Scripture, widows are not supposed to get any financial support from the church unless they have no living relative.”
She wouldn't listen. She said that our church had given her money before, but that it was not enough. I could see clearly that she did NOT glorify God for the money she had received.
I asked God to give me wisdom as to what to say. Whatever rebuke I gave was way too gentle, and it bounced right off. I finally told her frankly that she was wrong.
Days passed, and I was minding my own business, watching a sermon by John Piper on the computer. My heart was soaring as I was learning something new about God. Suddenly the words “Write her a letter” came to my mind. “NO,” I thought to myself and turned up the volume on the sermon. “Write her a letter” came to me again. After being told four times, I could no longer pay attention to the sermon. I pressed the pause button.
“Okay, God. If you want me to write this, You'd better give me the words. I do NOT want to do this, just so we're clear.” I took out a sheet of paper, and the words came to me easily and quickly. I ran to get my Bible, and I quoted specific verses. I mentioned the fact that the only widows that were supported by the church were those that were known for their good works, and she was not. I knew that people had left our church because of her, and I told her so.
When my husband got home, I read the letter to him. You see, I've gotten into a lot of trouble before from writing letters, especially letters that contain rebuke. They are like bomb shells. My husband is my God-given head, and I was waiting for it to pass inspection.
It passed. He even let me photocopy it and send a copy to the pastor, to warn him to never give money to this woman, because God would not be glorified. And if God wasn't glorified, it wasn't worth doing.
Needless to say, it caused an explosion. Both my husband and the pastor had to do damage control. This woman had so much venom towards me that I feared for my life.
Eventually when she saw the Holy Spirit in my face and the deep compassion that I had, her anger subsided. The pastor did some smooth talking. Eventually there were tears and hugs all around.
The woman never repented. Both my husband and the pastor questioned whether it had been God that had prompted me, since the rebuke wasn't effective. “You've got to be kidding me,” I said. “Do you know how many times God commanded His prophets to rebuke people, and the people never repented? Like, almost every time!”