Reaping the Rewards of Reproof (3)

Think of a treasured gift you once received – maybe a nicely framed text for your wall, a special coffee mug, a bouquet of flowers, or … a word of reproof. Already we have considered that embracing reproof can make you wiser, increase your opportunities for service, and save your life from ruin. But there is still another reason to open your ears and your heart to correction.

Reproof is a Gift of Love to Help You Grow

“Like a gold ring or an ornament of gold is a wise reprover to a listening ear” (Pro 25:12).[1] Notice that both of the items mentioned are gold. The obvious lesson is that the reprover is giving you something precious. You should place high value upon their words – they are like gold. Now imagine someone giving you gold because they love you, and you simply walk away, leaving their gift on the table. It seems extreme, but that is precisely how some respond to reproof. “A wise son hears his father’s instruction, but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke” (Pro 13:1).

For most people, attempting to correct someone or confront the error of a friend’s ways is not easy. At a minimum, the interaction will likely be awkward, and the relationship may take a turn for the worse. “Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you” (Pro 9:8). Their willingness to take this step is likely a sign of their care for you. Don’t assume the reproof is just a criticism. As love “believes all things” (1Co 13:7), you should assume their motivation is their desire for your growth. It is not an attack on you as a person but an act of kindness stemming from their interest in your preservation for God.

Moses was a great leader. But when his father-in-law saw the load he was carrying in judging the people, he said, “‘What you are doing is not good …. You are not able to do it alone. Now obey my voice; I will give you advice’” (Exo 18:17-19). Moses did not interpret the old man’s counsel as jealousy (which it wasn’t; see v9) or grumpy criticism. Moses could tell these words were a gift of love. “So Moses listened to the voice of his father-in-law” (v24). Moses was already a great leader; he grew into a greater leader as a result of embracing the words of correction.

“In an abundance of counselors there is safety” (Pro 11:14), but not all the advice will be good and, admittedly, not all correction comes from a motive of love. You can’t always live according to the advice of others, and not every rebuke is justified. But you can still learn from it. Listen to it, think about it, and grow as a result of it. Reap the rewards of reproof.

[1] All Scripture quotations in this article are from the ESV.