23 ¶ He that rebuketh a man afterwards shall find more favour than he that flattereth with the tongue.
Previous Proverbs have said;
Proverbs 27:5 Open rebuke is better than secret love.
Proverbs 27:6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.
Proverbs 9:8 Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee.
It is far better for the benefit of a friend to correct his or her errors than it is to flatter them. Although flattery at first will be received gratefully, eventually it will be turned to disappointment when they realize you didn’t do anything to keep them off a self destructive path. Although rebuke might not be taken well at the outset, if it is done with the right intention, to help, to direct, and to guide then in time it will be viewed gratefully.
No one likes to hear bad things about their behavior and certainly, if it’s done self righteously or arrogantly, it won’t be received well. When advice is based on experience or on a clear understanding of God’s words, His admonitions, and His instruction, even when it is rebuke it will help. A true friend is less concerned with someone’s immediate approval of their comments as they are with that person’s long term benefit. Rebuke, if done in love, is far better than flattery, which is merely a shameless attempt to gain approval.
A preacher’s efforts to skin the hide off of his congregation to keep them from wallowing in their self destructive impulses are far better and will be appreciated more in the long run than one who soft soaps everyone and tells them how wonderful they are. We’re humans. We’re not wonderful. Our primary instinct that we inherited from our first ancestors, Adam and Eve (Y-Chromosomal Adam and Mitochondrial Eve for you compromisers with the current fashion fad of science), is to sin against God. And even if that did not end up in a burning lake of fire for eternity, sin by itself would still burst out into flames and destroy us in this life, given enough time. Tell the truth; rebuke, exhort, plead if you have to, but stir people up to seek the better way of God’s way.
It is much easier to appease the egos of people sitting in the pews than it is to convict them of gossip, lying, dissimulation, fornication in thought, a desire for revenge, covetousness, cruelty, pride, self righteousness, and not staying immersed in God’s written word and prayer. But, in the long run, as lives are changed and train wrecks of lives are avoided people will be grateful.
John 17:17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.