Reaping the Rewards of Reproof (4)

There is only One who never needed to hear a word of rebuke. At times, evil men did throw accusations against Him, but “when he was reviled, he did not revile in return” (1Pe 2:23).[1] God directed Him, but never corrected Him. “Morning by morning he awakens; he awakens my ear to hear as those who are taught. The Lord God has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious; I turned not backward” (Isa 50:4-5). “I always do the things that are pleasing to him” (Joh 8:29). One day we will be like Him, but we’re not there yet. Part of the shepherding and discipling process in the meantime includes being corrected. The Lord Jesus tells us, “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent” (Rev 3:19). And one of the means the Lord uses to reprove us is the kind and gracious words of His people.

How that reproof is given is vitally important. If you want to give a word of correction, be kind – “sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness” (Pro 16:21). A harsh tone puts the recipient on the defensive and is obviously counterproductive. Second, assess whether you have a close enough relationship with them for your words to be meaningful – “faithful are the wounds of a friend” (Pro 27:6). Do they consider you a friend? Have you given them reason to believe you have their best interest at heart? Words of correction that are given where no real relationship exists will often be taken simply as condemnation. Third, be careful – “A brother offended is more unyielding than a strong city” (Pro 18:19).

But this short series has focused on being the recipient of reproof, and how it can be a blessing to you. “Reproof is a fork in the road for a sinful soul. Will we cringe at correction like a curse, or embrace rebuke as a blessing? One of the great themes in Proverbs is that those who embrace rebuke are wise and walk the path of life, while those who despise reproof find themselves to be fools careening toward death.”[2] You see, it is dangerous to ignore reproof. “Cease to hear instruction, my son, and you will stray from the words of knowledge” (Pro 19:27). The input and advice of others are intended as a check and balance for your life. And it is not only your life that you may be playing fast and loose with – “he who rejects reproof leads others astray” (Pro 10:17). “We rise to our highest potential as creatures made in the image of God when we allow God, His word, and His people to teach us.”[3]


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

[2] David Mathis, Habits of Grace (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2016), 185-186, in the chapter entitled “Embracing the Blessing of Rebuke.”

[3] A.J. Higgins, Proverbs, in What the Bible Teaches (Kilmarnock: John Ritchie Ltd, 2008), 135.