Proverbs 9:7-8 warns us: “He who corrects a scoffer gets dishonor for himself … do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you, reprove a wise man, and he will love you.” These verses teach us that there is a kind of person who is not open to being instructed, so we should not waste our time with them. Rather, we should save our teaching for wise people, who will love us for it. This is a good word for all of us who might teach others — but it can also serve as a point of personal evaluation as well!
As you think of the truth of these verses — that scoffers won’t receive instruction, but wise men will — think of it in regard to your OWN personal response to others. How do YOU receive instruction? If someone tries to correct you, do you get offended? Do people around you fear to share anything difficult with you because they fear rebuke, insult, or anger? Or do they know that you have a humble heart, that you always wants to know the truth, that you will receive it in the way it is intended, and that you will apply it to your life with gratitude?
These verses were written to instruct those who might correct others, but they can also be applied to our own personal attitudes as well. Which of the two kinds of people mentioned in these verses are most like YOU?
The difference is often in what your primary goal is. In “proverb” form:
The person, the scoffer, who is offended or gets angry at correction is often more concerned about looking right, about how he looks before people, than about actually doing right. He gets angry because his primary goal (looking right and good to people) is being “damaged”. Tie this in to 2 Cor 13:7, and you’ve got a principle:
Doing right is primary; Looking right is secondary, and may be optional.
Put the emphasis on looking right though, and you end up with just the opposite:
Looking right is primary; Doing right is secondary, and may be optional.
How often does, say, politics, seem to primarily operate on the second principle?
Excellent reminder for us all to be open to correction.