Saturday, August 24, 2013

Reproof: A Double Blessing

“Whoso loveth instruction loveth knowledge: but he that hateth reproof is brutish.”  (Prov.12:1)

A brute, according to the dictionary, is a “savage, insensitive person, displaying animal qualities and desires; one who is not intelligent, but irrational.” Solomon characterizes such an individual as the opposite of a man or woman who loves instruction. They are contrasts that play off one another.  Sound, effective instruction will always involve some degree of reproof, while the individual who cannot sustain a rebuke will be forever uneducated in the important lessons of life. They, like the animals, are forced to learn by experience. In the case of the brute beast, it’s because they lack the capacity to learn any other way. In the case of a “brutish” human being, it’s because they lack the humility that is required to learn. To receive instruction, one must first assume that the instructor knows something he or she does not. This is hard for some people to even grasp, much less acknowledge. Solomon says they’re worse than fools. “Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? There is more hope of a fool than of him” (26:12).

We all know reproof is an expression of blame or disapproval, but would you allow me to perform my own personal dissection of it? First, what is proof? It’s evidence or an argument used to establish a fact or the truth. Therefore re-proof would be something added to an argument that has already been made. I would suggest that most of the reproof you and I experience concerns something the Holy Spirit of God has already pointed out to us; and in most cases, we have ignored it. This may not always be true, but from personal experience, I’d be willing to bet it is more often than not.

Those among us who might be tempted to pride ourselves in our ability to take a reproof graciously should first ask ourselves if this is only true when we can decide how, or from whom, it will come. God may choose to rebuke us through a kindly Samuel (1 Sam. 13) or an amiable Abigail (1 Sam. 25); but, on the other hand, He may send a ranting Shimei (2 Sam. 16), or worse yet, He may speak through a donkey (Num. 22)!

Now, here is why I say individuals able to see the hand of God behind the most unworthy instrument of reproof will find themselves twice blessed. Not only do they learn the intended lesson from God that comes with the rebuke, they have also exercised themselves in humility, something guaranteed to make one a recipient of an extra helping of the grace of God. “…Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble”  (James 4:6). Is this not reason enough to love the source of the reproof, whoever it may be? “Rebuke a wise man a wise man, and he will love thee” (Prov. 9:8b).

It’s been said, “When you’re rebuked, consider the source.” I would agree with that…especially when the ultimate Source is God.

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