“A reproof entereth more into a wise man than an hundred stripes into a fool.”–Proverbs 17:10
Every parent knows the frustration of trying to get their children to accept reproof and live righteously. Pastors often find it even more difficult with church members. None of the should surprise us, since we all are selfish and stubborn by nature. Few people ever learn to receive reproof with a good attitude.
Pastor Paul Chappell said, the evangelist Gipsy Smith would often counsel with people after the end of a service where he preached. He told of meeting with a man once who told him he was not getting anything out of his Bible reading. The man said he received no inspiration although he had “gone through it several times.” “Let it go through you once,” replied Smith, “then you will tell a different story!”
One of the easiest ways to distinguish between someone who is wise and someone who is foolish is to see how he responds to reproof. Since all of us make mistakes, all of us need correction. The problem arises when we respond to that correction with pride rather than heeding it. This not only robs us of improvements that need to be made in our character and conduct, but it demonstrates that we are not walking in wisdom.
In addition to the reproofs we receive from friends and authorities in our lives, we need to carefully approach the Word of God looking for things that need to change. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
Often we are tempted to go to the Bible to point out the mistakes of others rather than reading it to find things in our own lives that are worthy of reproof. If we do not listen to the reproofs of Scripture, we will not be equipped to do the work to which God has called us. It may be painful to receive reproof, but it is far better than continuing on the path of folly. As we respond properly to reproof, we demonstrate skill and wisdom in living.