Lesson 64

Sometimes we just cannot help it. We have to try to correct someone when they are obviously wrong. Isn’t that the right thing? You would think so, but look at what Proverbs 9:7-9 says:

“Whoever corrects a mocker invites insult;
whoever rebukes a wicked man incurs abuse.

Do not rebuke a mocker or he will hate you;
rebuke a wise man and he will love you.

Instruct a wise man and he will be wiser still;
teach a righteous man and he will add to his learning. (NIV)

When you try to correct someone who is arrogant and rebellious, you only get insults. Have you noticed that? When I read this, I disagreed. But the more I thought about it the more I had to recognize it as truth. I thought of people that I had corrected and the reaction I got. It was not pretty.

One time I was sitting in a group. How we got on this particular conversation thread I don’t know, but I do know that I walked away from it with several virtual black eyes. My husband had just been explaining just a few days before a song to me that was written about the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald. By listening to the song several times you learned that it occurred on Lake Superior. It was right after that I watched a special on the History Channel about how many shipwrecks were on this Great Lake. Well, I’m sitting in this group and they commented on how the Edmund Fitzgerald happened on Lake Michigan. I politely corrected them (I know it was polite because a couple of witnesses said that they could not understand why I received such hostile reactions from my calm words). Boy, did I get a fight. I was told that I was wrong, that they should know better than me, and that I was always being so arrogant and trying to make them look stupid. I was in such shock. But why was I surprised? These same people have mocked my dedication to God and shown jealousy at the blessings I’ve received. Do not correct a mocker.

When I did that “minor” correction above, I had a very strained relationship with a few of those people for quite some time. “Do not rebuke a mocker or he will hate you…” How true! When you are corrected, how do you react? Usually not too gracefully. We get defensive and angry. “Rebuke a wise man and he will love you.” Based on those words, are you wise?

Let’s look at that. We can always point out where others are acting foolishly like I did above. I could probably write a book on such encounters. But to follow the purpose of studying Proverbs, let look inside ourselves instead of looking at others.

When you first read these words, you focus on the person doing the rebuking and taking those words to heart. But let’s once again turn the mirror around and see how much deeper we can apply these words.

Whoever corrects a mocker invites insult;
whoever rebukes a wicked man incurs abuse.

Are you the mocker/wicked man or are you the wise man?

Instruct a wise man and he will be wiser still;
teach a righteous man and he will add to his learning.

When you are corrected, how do you react? Do you snap back and give a sarcastic response? Or do you accept the correction humbly and say thank you? Be honest with yourself. I’ve never met a person who didn’t react more as the mocker instead of the wise man. Rarely do we possess the wisdom and humility to accept correction and direction. Only when we want it do we take it (going to college). But when someone gives unsolicited instruction, we go off the deep end.

Why are you studying Proverbs? To become an example of wisdom and truth? Stop at this point, and evaluate your heart and the desire you have to continue through Proverbs. You need to come to terms that the journey to wisdom will not be a piece of cake. It will be hard to look in the mirror at ourselves and see more of the mocker than the wise man. But by the end of the study, you should with sincere humility be able to see less of the mocker and more of the wise man.

Are you ready to tame the tongue and express humility? Are you ready to take correction with love? Are you ready to take instruction without the arrogance?