Receiving Rebuke

There is an issue in the blogosphere (and not only here!) that needs addressing. It is rather pressing. I have seen it over and over on my blog. No doubt many who read this post will think, “Physician, heal thyself!” Some who are less charitable might be thinking, “You two-faced hypocrite!” I will attempt to forestall such thinking by admitting that I am the first person who needs to heed Scripture on this, and that I often fail. By God’s grace, I do not always fail. I have admitted mistakes on the blog before when they have been pointed out. But there is no doubt that I can do better. Please (and most especially if you hate my guts!) pray that I will do better about that. So I am preaching to myself first, folks.

The problem to which I refer is the problem of people not receiving correction very well. There can be a number of reasons for this. Undoubtedly the first and foremost problem is pride: Rule 1- I am always right. Rule 2- If I am not right, see Rule 1.

Pride can be present for a number of reasons. One is that God has given some people many gifts, and it is easy to be very complacent (not to say proprietary!) in our contemplation of those gifts. A second reason we are often proud is that sometimes we are often correct. And when we are, we can often think that our personal worth is tied up in being right. That harmful unity of self-worth and correctness must be severed. Contrary to what we might think, it is not the end of the world if we are wrong. It does not mean that we are worth less (or worthless, for that matter!) if we are incorrect on something. It does mean we are human.

Proverbs 9:8 is critical here. I will put it up in several translations:

Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you; reprove a wise man, and he will love you (ESV). Don’t rebuke a mocker, or he will hate you; rebuke a wise man, and he will love you (HCSB). So don’t bother correcting mockers; they will only hate you. But correct the wise, and they will love you (NLT). A scoffer who is rebuked will only hate you; the wise, when rebuked, will love you (NRSV).

One could go so far as to say this: if there is one Bible verse that is being ignored/transgressed more often than any other in the blogosphere, this would have to be that verse. At the very least, it would have to rank pretty high up there. The reason we ignore this verse is because we think that disagreement equals personal attack, and that rebuke is an even worse assault. But the verse says that part of wisdom is receiving rebuke well. It means that rebuke does not immediately send the wise man into ecstasies of thin-skinned apoplectic rage. Instead, the first question a wise man asks himself upon receiving rebuke is this: “Despite my initially irritated response, is there any merit to this rebuke? Is there any way that I can put myself into the other person’s shoes, see it from their angle, and acknowledge that there might be something in this?”

Full disclosure: to a certain extent, I am writing this post out of a strong sense of self-preservation. The amount of moderation might be significantly reduced if we all took Proverbs 9:8 to heart! And then my blood-pressure might return to normal, and the stress level lessen, and I might worry a bit less about what happens here at the GB.

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5 Comments

  1. Stuart said,

    June 13, 2014 at 2:15 pm

    A good word, Lane. I hope I will heed it.

  2. michael said,

    June 13, 2014 at 8:11 pm

    Don’t know so can’t say definitively but the following saying is attributed to Martin Luther the great reformer:

    “FOR IF I DID NOT HAVE THE WELFARE OF MY BROTHER AT HEART

    I WOULD CERTAINLY BE QUIET AND LET HIM GO

    BUT THE FACT THAT I OPEN MY MOUTH AND REBUKE HIM IS AN INDICATION THAT I LOVE HIM AND SEEK HIS WELFARE

    FOR MY FAILURE TO INSTRUCT AND REBUKE MY BROTHER IS ACTUALLY AN EVIDENCE OF ANGER”

    That saying weighs heavy on my soul when I think about rebuking my brother. There is also this that the Apostle Peter wrote that in my view assures us all that God has His means available, the devil, to quench any pride that keeps us from loving our neighbor clothed in humility when doing so:

    1Pe 5:5 Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
    1Pe 5:6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you,
    1Pe 5:7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
    1Pe 5:8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
    1Pe 5:9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.
    1Pe 5:10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.
    1Pe 5:11 To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

    I also weigh the following wisdom from the Psalms when thinking God doesn’t pay to close attention to my attitude or my motive or my hubris towards others:

    Psa 33:13 The LORD looks down from heaven; he sees all the children of man;
    Psa 33:14 from where he sits enthroned he looks out on all the inhabitants of the earth,
    Psa 33:15 he who fashions the hearts of them all and observes all their deeds.

  3. June 13, 2014 at 9:06 pm

    I’ve found David Murray’s words here to be quite appropo:

    http://headhearthand.org/blog/2013/03/04/the-most-essential-life-skill-teachability/

  4. June 13, 2014 at 9:08 pm

    I’ve also thought this way: the proverb says, essentially, that, if you reprove a wise man he will love you. It follows, by contrapositive, that if you rebuke and man, and he doesn’t love you for it, he is not wise.

  5. armk said,

    June 16, 2014 at 5:14 am

    Prov. 9:7-9
    7 Whoever corrects a scoffer gets himself abuse, and he who reproves a wicked man incurs injury.
    8 Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you; reprove a wise man, and he will love you.
    9 Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning.

    Prov. 17:10
    10 A rebuke goes deeper into a man of understanding than a hundred blows into a fool.


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