Proverbs 9:7-9 "He who corrects a scoffer gets shame for himself, and he who rebukes a wicked man only harms himself. Do not correct a scoffer, lest he hate you; rebuke a wise man, and he will be still wiser; Teach a just man, and he will increase in learning."
My natural tendency when reading this passage of scripture is to focus on the obvious; knowing who to offer correction to and who to leave alone. But, that seems fairly self explanatory here. Instead, I'd like to ask a question; Are you a scoffer or are you wise? How do you take correction? Let's look at this from both standpoints.
The scoffer (also called "wicked man") - The scoffer or "scorner" is one who mocks, scorns, derides, or boasts so as to express utter contempt. When the "scorner" is confronted by godly counsel for correction, instruction, or pleading to turn back from sin, she will fly off the handle and is too rebellious to listen. She may lash out with anger, hurtful words, and sometimes will even resort to physical force. Or maybe she outwardly smiles and nods, but inside she is fuming. She often knows the truth, but refuses to listen to it. She has set in her mind her own "form" of the truth and nothing will sway her from her faulty thinking. The scoffer will not receive correction, therefore cannot gain wisdom and understanding and will not have spiritual growth. According to Proverbs 24:9, the scornful is condemned as an abomination and Psalm 1:1 shows that this activity is absolutely against the law of the Lord. We are told to not even sit in the seat of the scornful, let alone practice such behavior. This is no laughing matter. We are hurting ourselves, and all those we love when we do not listen to godly counsel. This passage isn't talking about criticism from just anybody, it is referring to correction that comes from the Word of God, often through the mouth of a godly person. When someone urges you to turn from sin, do you fight it? Do you lash out in anger and frustration? Do you put up your rebellious walls even further around your heart? Then you, my friend, are in the category of the scoffer. I've been there, and it's not a pretty place. It is truly an abomination and will affect not just you, but everyone around you. It brings shame upon any who attempt to help you. Before long, they will realize that you are in this category and that they can no longer bring correction before you. They will quit reaching out. Don't be a scoffer!
The wise (or just) - A wise person is one who is skilled or experienced in living. She is one who learns as she goes and allows her experience to grow her instead of inhibit her. She loves learning, knowing that it is the only way to gain understanding. She sees the blessing of godly counsel, and is not easily lied to. When a person confronts her with godly counsel, she is eager to hear them out. This person craves instruction and guidance and will take the time to hear what has been said and weigh it seriously against God's Word. This is the place I have learned to reside. I need godly women in my life that are not afraid to confront me if I'm heading out to left field. I have also learned that not all counsel is accurate against God's Word, but that does not mean I make a scene or scoff at the one bringing it to me. Instead, I take it to heart and search the scriptures for the truth to see what I am missing. It is an opportunity to step out of my box, take off the blinders, and search for the truth. Proverbs 11:14 says "Where there is no counsel, the people fall; but in the multitude of counselors there is safety." If you only listen to one voice, and then fail to check it against the scriptures, and scoff at everyone else, then you are in grave danger. However, when we listen to a multitude of counselors, take what they say and hold it up to the light of the WONDERFUL COUNSELOR, then we will be in the safety of wisdom.
So, which one will you choose to be? Scoffer or Wise?