Is open rebuke really better?

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

Really? Who welcomes open rebuke? Who welcomes hidden rebuke?

Who even welcomes rebuke that really looks like something else altogether?

All of us have had the experience in which we ask, perhaps only in our mind and to ourselves, “what does he or she really think of me?” He or she may, in fact, have great affection or love for you, but the unknown renders the reality ineffectual.

Charity toward another — “love” in the Proverb — is not meant to be hidden. Love is to be expressed. Or demonstrated. This is why we should be quick to understand love not merely as emotion, or feeling, but as the emotion or feeling expressed and demonstrated toward its object.

One might even say that love as emotion and feeling is not true love until it is expressed toward its object.

“Love consists in this…that God loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10, CSB).

So, as with many Proverbs, the truth is in the comparison. Hidden love is relatively worthless, both to the one holding it and the one (not) receiving it. Open rebuke, by comparison, at least has value, even if only to confirm where the rebuker stands.

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