The scene is familiar. Someone you love is living in a way that is unstable, so you attempt to correct them with instructions that seem logical to you. The conversation ends in painful frustration. What went wrong?
You tried to reprove a scorner.
The biblical guideline for reproving a scorner can be summed up in a word: Don’t. There’s drama ahead if we try to instruct someone who lives by the motto, “Don’t tell me what to do.”
LECTURES OFTEN BACKFIRE
“He that reproveth a scorner getteth to himself shame: and he that rebuketh a wicked man getteth himself a blot. Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee.” (Proverbs 9:7-8)
God doesn’t want us to attempt to instruct a person who is rejecting Him and the principles of His Word. We are out of line, and our attempts often do more damage. Something went wrong in the scorner’s life, leaving a collection of unresolved conflicts. If we insist on giving lectures, we’ll simply add a blot to our own record. What we consider to be instruction may come across as insensitivity.
Never sacrifice the relationship on the altar of winning an argument. It is better to wait until a struggling person returns to the wisdom of the Lord, and this takes time. The deeper the problems, the greater the miracles. Patience is a requirement.
Have you been unsympathetic to the struggles of someone who is already in fragile condition spiritually? Apologize and don’t repeat the same mistake. The only thing worse than reproving a scorner is to be unloving.
MENTOR THE WILLING
While we’re prayerfully waiting for the scornful to recover, there are others who would love to have a mentor to guide them as they learn to navigate the Christian life. God develops a reasonable spirit in people who spend time with Him in His Word, causing them to become willing learners. Is there someone else you can help? Shift your focus to mentoring a willing learner.
Have you been arguing and debating with a scorner? You cannot change a person’s mind by quarreling with them, even if they are from your own family. Change your approach from argumentative to patiently prayerful, and look for opportunities to show Christlike love. A scorner has enough pain, but never too much prayer and love.
God can heal the heart of a scorner in due season. Do you want to help? Stop lecturing and take your observations and concerns to the Lord in prayer. Nothing is too hard for God.
“Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.” (Proverbs 9:9)
Published: May 11, 2020
Defined: “A scoffer; a derider; in Scripture, one who scoffs at religion, its ordinances and teachers, and who makes a mock of sin and the judgments and threatenings of God against sinners.” Reference