Lilypie Kids Birthday tickers Lilypie Third Birthday tickers

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Reproof and Wise Men

"Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you;
reprove a wise man, and he will love you."
Proverbs 9:8

I was reading in Proverbs yesterday, trying to hustle through this middle section of chapter nine to get back to the contrasting descriptions of Lady Wisdom and Lady Folly, when I noticed this section of verses. The writer of Proverbs wants us to know something about wisdom and something about wise men. He wants us to know that wisdom and wise men are the polar opposite of foolishness and fools.

The following verse goes even further. It says that wise and righteous men are teachable - they grow in knowledge. Scoffers show a foolish hatred towards loving, reproving messengers, while wise men receive these words with love. And not only are wise men teachable, they're imperfect! Wise men are not perfect! Only God is perfect! What a freeing thought! God's people are called to be wise and yet not perfect! Amazing! His Word tells us to love reproof! Oh, that we would remember this truth when we feel the pressure of perfection! Oh, to be freed from legalism! To know the fear of the Lord forever!

So what do we do with these truths? Go around rebuking people for their incessant foolishness? Not exactly. These verses teach us that we ought to be thankful for loving rebukes, for kind reproofs, for good and hard words. That's right - thankful. We ought to love the messengers more, not less. And ultimately, we ought to love the God who constantly shepherds us with His rod and His staff (Psalm 23:4). Both the rod and the staff are meant to comfort God's sheep.

After quoting Proverbs 3:11-12 in Hebrews 12, the writer goes on to explain the text:
"My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?
So the sign of God's grace in a believer's life is not a nice, solitary, private life, but one in which there is love that disciplines and reproves. So the question for you and me is this: do you love reproof? Do you love the person who rebukes you in your arrogance and selfishness? Are you thankful for that person's kind words, or are you angry at them for breaking your bubble of self-righteousness and wounding your conscience?

The truth is that Jesus has already exposed our arrogance and self-rightouesness on the cross. He took upon Himself the wrath of God against all who would ever believe in Him and paid for their sins on His bloody cross. By His perfect obedience to God and at the price of His very life, He bought and gave to His people the ability to hear and believe the words of God - His Holy Spirit. Now, by trusting in Jesus's life and death and resurrection in our place, we can hear God's loving words - both the rod that breaks us and the staff that gathers us close. We can love the God who reproves us - both by His written Word and by His messengers, the very people around us. And we can even love those people, too. That, my friends, is the mark of wisdom.

No comments: