How are we REACTING to INSTRUCTION, CORRECTION & REBUKE? "He who corrects a scoffer gets shame for himself, and he who rebukes a wicked man only harms himself. Do not correct a scoffer, lest he hate you; rebuke a wise man, and he will love you. Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a just man, and he will increase in learning." (Prov. 9:7-9)
The above verses give us insight into how we can distinguish a foolish and a wise person, and this is how a person reacts to instruction, correction and rebuke. The Word in Life Study Bible actually distinguishes a foolish person in four different ways as listed below:
- The Simple: This person can't tell the difference between truth and falsehood, is gullible (9:4, 16; 14:15) and lacks understanding (7:7). It is not surprising that this person lacks direction!
- The Scoffer: This person loves to scorn those people who try to do what is right, but when corrected turns surly (9:7–8), and shames those who try to correct him/her (15:12). Scoffers will not listen to rebuke (13:1) or, love those who rebuke them (15:12). This behavior actually emanates from inward pride (21:24).
- The Arrogant: This person willfully ignores wisdom and lives for self with the only thought: “What’s in it for me?” In fact, this person makes a sport out of doing evil (10:23) and likes to give his/her opinion rather than learn (18:2) being wise in his/her own eyes (26:5).
- The Rebel: This person actually hates wisdom and instruction (1:7) while mocking the idea of sin (14:9). It is sadly true that this person cannot be separated from his/her foolishness (27:22) unless God intervenes in his/her life.
A scoffer is thoroughly set against wisdom (1:22) and mocks at godly things. Thus, it is advisable not to correct such a person. By contrast, a wise person accepts correction and responds with gratitude to the one who points out his/her error. A wise person always welcomes constructive criticism; by implication, he/she is also humble (v. 10; 3:7; 11:2). Thus, true wisdom perceives the positive side of correction; is not defensive and easily offended, but is humble and responsive. Instead of resenting criticism, a wise person takes it to heart and thus becomes still wiser. In fact, the wise are eager to receive knowledge and understanding and to profit from correction and rebuke.
How do we react when parents, teachers, supervisors, or friends corrects us? Let us remember that correction involves both instruction and exercise designed to train in proper conduct. To achieve this, rebuke may also be inflicted as a means of correction. Let’s embrace the discipline of instruction and heed reproofs gladly as "faithful are the wounds of a friend" (27:6). Remember, the way we respond to criticism and rebuke reveals the kind of person we are. Let us be always aware that rebuke is an evidence of love (27:5), so let us value it (25:12) and gain understanding from it (19:25).