#GrowWise. Wisdom’s Toughest Test


January 9, 2015

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Proverbs 9:7-9 (read the whole chapter)

Whoever corrects a mocker invites insults;
    whoever rebukes the wicked incurs abuse.
Do not rebuke mockers or they will hate you;
    rebuke the wise and they will love you.
Instruct the wise and they will be wiser still;
    teach the righteous and they will add to their learning.



Before I get to the text printed above I want to say a word about the earlier part of chapter 9. Though I haven’t said it explicitly, I want you to read the whole chapter each day.

In case we weren’t captivated by wisdom being more valuable than gold or more precious than silver or more beautiful than rubies or like a noble and beautiful woman, there’s more. As today’s text begins we see Wisdom likened to a beautiful home and an exquisite meal.

In short, over and over and over, the writer of the Proverbs wants us to understand one thing: no matter what we desire in life, Wisdom is better, and therefore worthy of our greatest desire and highest aspiration. I understand this, but I’m not sure I really own it for myself. Do you? Do we want the Wisdom of God more than anything? Do I really believe Wisdom is more to be desired than anything else I want? Let’s just say Proverbs has my attention– which I think is one of its main goals.

Ok– so today’s identified verses.

Do not rebuke mockers or they will hate you;
    rebuke the wise and they will love you.
Instruct the wise and they will be wiser still;

My first impulse was to apply this to other people. You know, determine the mockers and idiots in my life. My question: who in my life resists to my wisdom? Then it hit me. Wrong question. Better question? Whose wisdom am I resisting? How am I responding to the rebuke, correction and critique of others. Do I mock them?

One of the themes we will see recur throughout the rest of the Proverbs is how people respond to correction and criticism. Here’s a litmus test for wisdom. How do I respond to criticism? Am I defensive? Self justifying? Do I always need to be right? Am I combative? Do I resort to a passive aggressive silent treatment when some one criticizes  or corrects me? Do I triangulate other people into the scenario and ask them to take my side against my critic? Do I resort to mocking my critic?

I hate to admit it, but I have engaged in all of the above at one time or another in the past year or so. These responses reveal the antithesis of a wise person. The text makes clear the response of the wise: “Rebuke the wise and they will love you.” When you think about it, this is an astonishing response.

A wise person doesn’t respond to the one who rebukes them with a “love them anyway” approach. No, they love their critic precisely because of the rebuke.

Wisdom loves the criticism and the critic.

Let’s just call that a “growing edge” for me. And you?

I’ll see you tomorrow in Proverbs 10.


J.D. Walt writes daily for Seedbed’s Daily Text. He serves as Seedbed’s Sower in Chief. Follow him @jdwalt on Twitter or email him at jd.walt@seedbed.com.

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Farmer. Poet. Theologian. Jurist. Publisher. Seedbed's Sower-in-Chief.


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