No one likes to be wrong, but we are all wrong sometimes. Even you. And if you have made a mistake, or if there is any room for improvement, it is not unreasonable for someone to have some words of advice for you, or even (gasp!) a word of reproof. “What?!? A reproof for me??? I’m just a young Christian trying to serve the Lord!” As crazy as it may seem, yes, someone else may involve themselves in your life with a word of advice. And how you respond to that rebuke is vital – it reveals whether you are wise or a fool.
Are You Open to Change?
Perhaps you are frustrated at times by others’ lack of openness to change. You perceive a hesitancy on the part of others whereas you are certainly willing to embrace change when it is required. Or are you? What if the change that is really needed is in your own heart? The Christian life begins with repentance, and because we do not experience sinlessness until we are with Christ, repentance needs to be an ongoing part of Christian living.
“A rebuke goes deeper into a man of understanding than a hundred blows into a fool” (Pro 17:10). Do you see how the person with understanding responds to the rebuke? She doesn’t roll her eyes, or plug her ears, or grumpily fire back a retort of her own. She allows the words to go deep inside her – not to invoke shame, but to contemplate what she has heard. It may not be totally accurate, but she seeks to draw kernels of truth from it; she tries to apply it – she is changed by it, for the better. By contrast, the fool can receive a hundred blows, yet he still goes and does the same thing. Why? Because he’s a fool. The rebuke is not an attempt to demean you as a person. It is intended to bless you. There are rewards to reap from reproof.
Receiving a Reproof Makes You Wiser
“Reprove a wise man, and he will love you. Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning” (Pro 9:8-9). A righteous man knows he has blind spots in his thinking. You can’t help but see things through your own particular lens, but others have different experience, a different makeup, a different way of thinking – and if you listen to them, you will increase in learning.
David was a wise man, but wise men can still make mistakes, and he nearly made a big one in going after Nabal. Abigail courageously stepped in with a perspective that David had not considered. And David the warrior, the one anointed as future king, listened to her: “Blessed be the Lord …. Blessed be your discretion …. I have obeyed your voice” (1Sa 25:32-35).
You likely haven’t thought of every angle and ramification. “Wisdom from above is … open to reason” (Jas 3:17). You may be wise, but you will be wiser if you consider the reproof and choose to reap its rewards.
 All Scripture quotations in this article are from the ESV.
 At least, it had better not be. Things to keep in mind when giving reproof will be touched later in this brief series.