The Wise Man’s Response To Rebuke

June 28, 2013

A man went to a doctor because he was having some bothersome symptoms. After some discussion and running a few simple tests, the doctor told his patient that he did definitely have a disease and must immediately quit his unhealthy diet and lifestyle. The doctor also gave him specific instructions about how to reduce the pain, problems, and risk of early death, and on how to actually cure the disease.

How did the patient react to this information? How did he respond? Was he agreeable? Was he grateful to the doctor for telling him the truth? Did the patient follow through on the advice, or did he say he would, yet apathetically did not? Did he get angry and try to retaliate against the doctor any way he could? Did he disbelieve the information, ignore the remedy, and even laugh about it with his friends? Was he skeptical and so moved on to trying to find another doctor, and another and another, who would tell him “pleasant things” (Isa. 30:10) instead? Or, did the patient believe the doctor’s words, promise to take his advice, do so, and get cured?

The answers to these questions hinges on one main thing: The patient’s wisdom. How wise the patient is determines how that patient will respond to the serious information about his health and well-being, and his wisdom will determine whether or not he is healed.

The same holds true about a person’s spiritual health, his earthly well-being, and his eternal fate. If he accepts the Truth about the disease he has, believes in the Cure and acts accordingly, he is wise. But if he mocks the Cure, either through his words or through his negligence in heeding it, then God’s Word deems that man a fool. In fact, that man, through his anger at hearing rebuke, will often try to insult and persecute those who have stated with honesty the truth of his situation.

Pr. 9:7-9 says, “Whoever corrects a mocker brings on insult; whoever rebukes a wicked man incurs abuse. Do not rebuke a mocker or he will hate you; rebuke a wise man and he will love you. Instruct a wise man and he will be wiser still; teach a righteous man and he will add to his learning.”

Wisdom is revealed in the diseased man by his response to Truth, to exhortation, to rebuke. Indeed, Scripture tells God’s ambassadors to correct and rebuke (2 Tim. 4:2 // Titus 2:15) –gently (2 Tim. 2:25), and in love (Eph. 4:15), but if necessary, then sharply. (Titus 1:13) A wise man will listen, open his eyes, and repent, and he will appreciate, even love, the person who has helped him wake up to his plight. But a wicked man will do the opposite: He will strive, with great hostility, to make the Truth-teller his enemy.

Therefore, we, along with Paul, ask, “Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth?” (Gal. 4:16)

The wise man will answer, “Certainly not. Please help me. And please instruct me some more.”

with love,

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