The following was preached at Christ Church Downtown during our time of exhortation prior to our confession of sin and assurance of pardon.
“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” (Proverbs 9:7-9).
In this passage, we are taught to distinguish between the wicked and the wise when offering correction and rebuke.
Get it wrong, and you will receive shame, harm, and hate. Get it right, and you will receive love from the wise man and the pleasure of seeing his wisdom and knowledge grow.
And at this time, you may be thinking of someone in your life that could use a good rebuke, and if they’re wicked or wise.
That’s fine… But this morning I want you not to think of your husband, or your wife, or your children, or your friend, or your neighbor, or that co-worker…
Instead, think of you. Are you the wicked man or the wise man?
When a brother comes to you with correction after he witnessed your outburst of anger in the Logos parking lot, do you love him or hate him? When a sister takes the time to call you and rebukes you for gossiping in that group text, do you love her or hate her? When your parents discipline you for lazy disobedience, do you love them or do you hate them?
Far too often in our pride we become like the wicked man — impervious to rebuke, averse to any correction, quick to turn hard conversations about our sin back around on the one who loved us enough to bring it up.
This should not be so.
As Christians, we are to be like the wise man in this passage, loving those who bring us correction, appreciating the friends that God uses to keep us on the narrow path, those who are willing to lovingly confront us so that we may learn and grow. And as community of believers, we must submit ourselves to one another with joy, casting off our rags of pride and clothing ourselves with humility, “for God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
And yes—sometimes someone may come to you with a concern that, after some reflection, is not legitimate. Maybe they overheard a conversation, missed the context, and felt compelled to track you down. When this happens – rejoice. Rejoice and thank God for brothers and sisters that care.
All of us should be eager to pray the words of David in Psalm 141, saying, Father, “Let a righteous man strike me—it is a kindness; let him rebuke me—it is oil for my head; so let my head not refuse it.”