Scripture tells us an open rebuke is always better than hidden love. Too many times we equate a rebuke to NOT being loved, when just the opposite is true. You don't rebuke someone unless you care about them - care about what happens to them. You'd let them go on in their poor choices or absent-minded pursuits without any direction or correction. So, rebukes come on the heels of love. This is a pretty tough concept because this generation teaches love is kind of mushy, always seeing the good in others, and being "tolerant" of those things we don't understand or agree with. Let me just say there are some things we should be tolerant of - things which really don't matter that much. It could be as simple as tolerating (having a permissive attitude toward) how someone wears their hair or the style of clothes they choose to wear. I am not a fan of the saggy britches, nor the hip issues they are creating by walking so they can actually keep their pants up, but I can tolerate it! I cannot tolerate it when someone takes my Lord's name and uses it in conjunction with curse words. There are just some things we should never tolerate. Love goes deeper than just "tolerating" each other. In fact, it gets into the messiness of each other's lives and stands alongside when things just aren't as they ought to be - unafraid to admonish if necessary.
Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy. (Proverbs 27:6 NLT)
We cannot let someone else set the values for our lives, but we can learn from the values of others. Each value we consider embracing we must filter through the Word of God. If it measures up, holding up to the best measuring device we have at our disposal, then we can embrace it. If it doesn't, we have to reject it! We need to guard against just carte-blanche adopting everything someone says, does, or believes. To be a follower of the wrong stuff is dangerous ground for us to even traverse.
Sometimes we get so concerned with the reactions of others to the decisions we have made in our lives. Let me clue you in on something - the reaction of another to the decision we make is not always the best judgement factor in making the decision! Our decisions are not always going to be received well by another - their reaction is their own doing, not ours. Sure, we have people in our lives, who come alongside to mentor us and to help us develop solid morals and values. When they react to our decisions, it is usually from a different perspective - they want what's best for us, not what is convenient!
It is good to be sensitive to the reactions of another - but...their reactions should not be the determining factor in us making the decisions to live right, turn our backs on what is wrong, or move into a new place of freedom in our lives. Another may resist us, but we need to look at the source of the resistance. If it is based on biblical teaching, we may do well to listen to their resistance. If it is based on their own philosophy or opinion, it is clouded by their point of view - so we will do well to test it against the Word and see if it measures up.
Here's what I hope we will all see today - there is internal and external guilt. The internal guilt we feel is usually because something we have done is outside of the parameters God wants us to remain within. The external guilt we seem to embrace so easily is what another wants to project upon us because they are "reacting" to the actions we have taken. It is this second type of guilt we need to guard against and be sensitive to. This is not our guilt - it belongs to them. Let them keep it! They are reacting to our actions, not because they are concerned for our actions, but because of how it impacts them!
Truth be told, we allow people to "guilt" us into doing many things we neither want to do, nor enjoy. Why? Probably because we want to be "tolerant" of their viewpoint. If they have a viewpoint which puts them at a disadvantage, we cannot embrace their opinion as truth - we have to maintain the viewpoint which really gives us the perspective of truth! When we stand in our convictions, standing behind our decisions, others may become angered by those decisions. Guess what - that anger is not yours to bear - it is theirs! When we take their anger upon ourselves, we are bearing a burden which is not ours to bear! If you are being "guilted" by another, it is usually because they want control. Controlling people get very frustrated by your unwillingness to allow them control! Don't react to their desire for control - stand your ground!
Here's the down and dirty - don't be intimidated by the reactions of another. The only "reaction" which really matters is God's! How we act is always his focus - whenever our actions are not as he would desire, it is his "reaction" to our action which should be our focus. The convicting grace of God is the safest thing to embrace - the guilt of another human is not! Just sayin!