Yielding to Loving Reproofs
“Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you; reprove a wise man, and he will love you…A rebuke goes deeper into a man of understanding than a hundred blows into a fool.” (Proverbs 9:8; 17:10)
I was talking with some friends yesterday about my choice to have my second knee surgery in December, exactly two weeks before Christmas, just as community holiday events are in full swing. When I was growing up, in my Jewish home, we celebrated Hanukkah, which was pretty low-scale compared to many Christmas family plans. And, at that time those celebrated Hanukkah were considered a minority, so there was little mention of the holiday in my school and the general community. After that, I did join friends for Christmas and enjoyed church events, as I do today. However, my sixteen years in Africa only cemented my tradition of celebrating Christmas as a religious holiday, not a family event. So being in a hospital and a rehab facility leading up to Christmas is not a problem. Instead, it’s an opportunity to meditate on the wonder of Christ’s incarnation and humiliation, for our benefit.
In the Spring of this year, I was reminded that when we study Scripture, we bring all our experiences, prejudices, presumptions, and perspectives with us. It is impossible to read or think about anything completely objectively, except for math, I suppose. Sometimes it is a challenge to read something accurately, and reading for depth of insight may escape us entirely. In our passage today verbal rebuke for the wise is contrasted to physical blows to fools for correction. The ESV Study Bible comments, “It is clear that the ‘wise’ or ‘righteous’ person does not rest content with his attainment, nor is he presented as morally ‘perfect.’ He becomes still wiser, and will increase in learning, through correction.” * This comment focuses on the recipient of the revision and his or her attitude toward being reprimanded. Those who are wise appreciate and love growing in wisdom while those who are not will reject it entirely, hating the one who only wants what is best for him or her. Today, as in the previous days, let’s focus on ourselves as those who either love God’s correction through scriptural conviction or reject it entirely, hating confrontation with our sin or self-deception. When we study the Bible, we do so either as those ready to judge others or willing to examine our beliefs, thoughts, and desires. Focusing on others’ problems may become a means to escape self-examination.
Will we look at passages from Proverbs with a view toward ourselves? How about Matthew 7:6 (which is cited in commentary for our passage)? (“Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.”) When God offers us the gospel in the form of yielding to his correction, to be sanctified, becoming more like Christ, will receive it, with love? Do we demand that others believe the gospel when we do not apply God’s words for ourselves? How can you yield more readily to know and speak wisdom to those around us today?
*ESV Study Bible Notes, Proverbs 9:7-9, (digital edition), Crossway, 2008.