Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. (1 Tim. 5:1)

Sometimes, families can be contentious. Siblings fight, children rebel, and parents criticize. Healthy families, however, lovingly recognize and correct these shortfalls. As the parents of two girls and two boys, my husband and I quickly learned that not only did we need to approach parenting girls and boys differently, but we also needed to discipline each child according to his or her uniqueness. One child responded to time-outs, the other to extra chores. One needed constant communication, the other structured solitude. As the children grew and changed, our approach to parenting grew and changed accordingly. Discipline, specifically, is an extension of parental love based upon the parent-child relationship.

In his letter, Paul delivered similar advice to Timothy: Treat those in the church with the respect of a beloved family member—as fathers, mothers, sisters, and brothers. Rather than tossing off these relationships when difficulties arise, the Scripture suggests that healthy families rebuke lovingly in order to preserve and restore relationships. Ultimately, of course, our goal should be to direct one another to Christ.

Discipline from a place of love and purity. Confrontation is inevitable but healthy communication is important. The goal of intervention and confrontation should always be the restoration of relationships. When we must rebuke, we should do so with Christlike, familial love. After all, we are brothers and sisters in Christ.

If you must rebuke, rebuke respectfully and with genuine, familial love.

Dalene Fisher is a wife and mother. She serves as the dean of arts and sciences at Oklahoma Wesleyan University.

© 2019 Wesleyan Publishing House. Reprinted from Light from the Word. Used by permission.