Today: Proverbs 9
Wise people love being rebuked. In fact, Proverbs 9 tells us, a wise person will love you all the more because you have helped him see something in himself that perhaps he did not see, and he can change it. I want people to give me feedback, criticism, and rebuke because it makes me wiser.
Mockers and fools, however, hate you if you rebuke them; they get defensive and may even counter-attack you. So what can you do to help the mocker or fool? Pray for him. Pray God will bring her to the place where she will seek wisdom.
Here’s the passage I’m referring to:
Anyone who rebukes a mocker will get a smart retort. Anyone who rebukes the wicked will get hurt. So don’t bother rebuking mockers; they will only hate you. But the wise, when rebuked, will love you all the more. Teach the wise, and they will be wiser. Teach the righteous, and they will learn more (Proverbs 9:7-9, NLT).
Now, this raises a question in regards to what Jesus taught in Matthew 18:15-17, where he provided guidelines for dealing with someone who sins against you. We use Jesus’ guidelines all the time in small groups and in the church at large. But what if the person who has sinned against you is a fool? Do you go to him and show him his fault, and if he doesn’t listen, take someone else along, and if he still won’t hear you, take it to the church?
Perhaps Jesus’ first words in this passage are helpful: “If a brother sins against you.” This is a fellow Christ-follower in your community. But does that mean he or she is wise? Maybe not. I think Proverbs is cautioning you about how to approach a person–in your group, in your church, in your family–who does not have the emotional maturity and wisdom to receive your rebuke well. You’ll likely get a smart retort and you won’t win your brother or sister over. Instead, pray for the person. Pray that the Holy Spirit convicts him or her to what is right. Keep loving the person regardless (See Matthew 5:44).
God brings wisdom to those who seek him and are in community with others.
The other side of this is how you receive a rebuke. If you are wise, you will welcome constructive criticism. You want to grow and gain more wisdom, so you listen and then work on the issue. Many of us are blind to areas in our life that need to become better … but others see them! So welcome a rebuke from a friend. Thank him for it. And then ask for some accountability to deal with the problem.
I’d love to hear what you think on this one. How is it best to deal with a fool who is in the wrong?