WHAT! I was incensed. I was resentful. I was everything you would expect of an arrogant sixteen year old (not that all sixteen year olds are arrogant—I was!). I didn’t want to see the man. I didn’t want to see his children (who were my age). I just wanted to engage in a cold war and prove to him how right I was with all my wordiness.
That incident is what came to my mind when I ran across Proverbs 9:7-9 a few weeks ago.
Whoever corrects a mocker invites insults; whoever rebukes the wicked incurs abuse. Do not rebuke mockers or they will hate you; rebuke the wise and they will love you. Instruct the wise and they will be wiser still; teach the righteous and they will add to their learning.
This man was truly helping me. He thought I was wise and he was trying to make me wiser. Looking back, I thanked him for loving me enough. He did nothing wrong. The issue was me.
Nevertheless, these Proverbs aren’t just dealing with something as simple as helping someone improve their skill. How often do we violate these principles by trying to help those bent on mocking God’s standards and attempt to take on the role of the Holy Spirit? Too often, I’m afraid.
This isn’t to imply we shouldn’t ever correct someone. The issue at stake is the realization that those who have turned their back on God’s standards aren’t listening to God so what makes us think they will listen to us? When we attempt to rebuke those living in open rebellion against God, they will hate us even more.
Warren Wiersbe wrote, “Teach wise people and they’ll accept the truth and become wiser; try to teach fools and they’ll reject the truth and become even greater fools” (Be Skillful, 31).
Those who are wise—those possessing “the fear of the Lord” Proverbs 1:7—will gladly receive a word of instruction because they WANT to live in the truth. They are not convincing themselves of lies and half-truths. Instead, the wise desire to be wiser. They desire to live righteously not only to please the Lord but as an ever-improving ambassador of His Gospel.
Speaking about judging people appropriately, Jesus told us, “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces” (Matthew 7:6).
May the Lord give us wisdom to recognize the wise so we can be used to make them wiser.