Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you; reprove a wise man, and he will love you. Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight. – Proverbs 9:8-10
I remember sitting in a Bible study many years ago where the leader said we need to have a “teachable spirit.” I don’t remember much of anything else from that study, but I did walk away with the idea that I need to be open to being taught or in other words… rebuked.
Unfortunately, I can’t say I’ve always lived up to that standard. There have been too many times when I have been told something I didn’t like and I handled it poorly. I walked away not thinking very highly of the person who rebuked me.
When I teach I know I can get into an annoying little habit of using certain words repeatedly. I might say the word “junk” or “stuff” (two examples I’ve overused) so many times in one lesson that it’ll be bothersome to people. When I hear critical comments about this, I react. This can be especially troublesome if these comments are coming from someone close to me. My first reaction is usually a defensive one. I might become argumentative. However, if I take a few moments and reflect on what was said, I could very well learn something. Because the “rebuke” is coming from someone close, I have to remember they probably have my best interests at heart. If I listen to their comment, there is a good chance I will learn something.
But the other side of this coin is equally important. What if we are doing the rebuking? Proverbs tells we are not to reprove a “scoffer,” which would seem to be someone unwise. There are times we just need to be quiet and walk away. Yes we might know someone needs a wrong pointed out to them, but are they wise enough to receive it?
Or you may very well come to the conclusion that this is a particular situation in which it might be the best thing for you to just be quiet and move along.
Do you have a teachable spirit? Or to put it another way, are you wise enough to listen, accept and learn from rebuke? Your first reaction might be to defend your or justify you position, but the writer of Proverbs tells us we will be “still wiser” if we listen to reproof.