Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you; 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. (Proverbs 9:8-9 ESV)
Throughout Proverbs 9, the author is comparing wisdom to foolishness. Verses 1-12 describe wisdom and verses 13-18 describe foolishness.
Upon a first glance, they may seem similar. They both have a house and both call the simple. But, there is one major difference.
Wisdom gives life (verse 11) and foolishness gives death (verse 18). Without Christ, we are the simple. Psalm 19:7 says, “…the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.” Every day, we face decisions in which we can either choose to listen to the call of wisdom or to the call of foolishness.
You might be asking, “How do I know I am doing what is wise?”
It all starts with the fear of the Lord. That is the wisest decision you can make. Look to Proverbs 18:13: the fear of the Lord is to hate evil. We show this in our manner of behaving and speaking. By choosing to follow Christ, we have begun in our path to wisdom.
One thing that is a sure sign that you are growing in wisdom is the way you act when someone corrects you.
Taking criticism can be difficult. Nobody likes to be told what they are doing is wrong, especially when they think they are right. One of the hardest things for us as human beings to do is to accept when we have made mistakes. It is difficult to have someone come up to us and point out where we have been wrong.
Proverbs 9:8 says that when you rebuke a wise man they love you.
A sure sign of growing in wisdom is being able to accept correction. In fact, they not only accept correction but really appreciate it.
Verse 9 also shows that the wise man not only accepts correction but, also accepts instruction or teaching.
The more we grow in wisdom the more teachable we become. We commonly have this misconception that a wise person knows everything.
Wisdom and knowledge are two different things. Wisdom simply means to have deep understanding. That is why a wise person is so accepting of criticism. A wise person takes criticism graciously. They know that they can learn from it and not make that mistake again. They appreciate those who discipline them because they understand that it is ultimately for their good. They are teachable because they understand the value of learning.
We must learn to look at criticism as a loving way of others helping us to be more like Jesus. Obviously, there are times when those who are criticizing are not doing it in a spirit of love. But, the majority of times it is for our good. Take a hard look at your life. How do you handle criticism? Do you have a hard time because you think you know best? Are there relationships that have been broken because of the way you have taken criticism?