God will guide you!

By Alan Wright — April 10, 2019

When you wonder if you should correct someone, God will guide you.

Today’s Text: “Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you; reprove a wise man, and he will love you.” (Proverbs 9:8, ESV)

It was my first big church, multi-staff job. I was a lowly seminary intern and it was the first week of work for me. One of the associate pastors at First Presbyterian Church of Atlanta took me out for lunch. He had a suitable disposition and a wiry beard. The salad he ordered at the trendy midtown restaurant was covered with bean sprouts that approximated the size and shape of the whiskers of his beard. The more he ate, the more his beard filled with the lightweight bean sprouts. He had no idea. During the course of lunch, the pastor’s beard became considerably bushier.

What would you do? Would you tell the brother? “Uh, excuse me, I know I am new here and I, uh, mean no disrespect, but dude your beard has more bean sprouts than whiskers.”

I chose to let him walk back up the sidewalk of Peachtree St in broad daylight and return to the office and let someone else inform him that he had become a human chia pet.

I’m making light because, of course, bean sprouts in a beard is a light matter -- but what about more serious matters? How do you know when to bring correction and when not?

The counsel of Proverbs 9:8 clearly asserts: sometimes you should correct someone and sometimes you should not. If someone is self-absorbed, insecure and prone to scoff then it is a waste of time to correct him/her. But if a person is secure enough to love wisdom, want improvement and desire growth, then, by all means, correct him/her.

Another proverb provides an important angle on this matter: “Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.” It’s often best to just overlook a wrongdoing and move on. But there’s another side here too: “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17, ESV) Our truest and best friends help refine us through heartfelt corrections.

So, the scripture has no clear formula for when you are to offer corrective comments to someone. It requires discernment. I suggest you ask three questions: 1) Ask the Lord for wisdom; 2) Ask your own heart, “Do I really love this person and want the best for him/her?”; 3) Ask yourself, “Do I believe this person can receive my comments well?”  The Holy Spirit will guide you. And that’s the Gospel!

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