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. (NIV)
Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces. (NIV)
For the last few years we have owned a dog. He is a Standard Poodle, and he has a great disposition, however he is a scavenger when it comes to food. He tends to linger around the table at supper time, especially when there is a good, tasty cut of meat being served. Even when I tell him to go away sternly, he looks at me and then sits – right there by the table. At thanksgiving he received a beautiful ham bone with a good bit of meat left on the bone. He didn’t care about the nice meat or the fact that it was Hickory Smoked Ham – he just devoured it like it was his last meal.
That is what it’s like when we offer godly counsel to people who are not ready or willing to hear it. Wisdom, correction, counsel, and rebuke are as precious as pearls. Proverbs 9 tells us that godly people welcome such input. But foolish people want nothing to do with wise correction. Instead, they will tear you to pieces with arguments, resistance, or mockery.
Even though we have a responsibility to humbly correct people who are struggling with sin, Jesus urges us to discern whether a person is open to correction or counsel. If the person who needs correction is resistant to you, it is often better to step back, prayerfully ask God to soften their hearts, and wait until they are open to listening to godly wisdom. We must handle the precious gospel of Jesus with care, both giving and receiving counsel with careful discernment.
The Holy Spirit dwells within each and every one of us as believers. When in doubt about how to handle a difficult situation of correction, whisper a prayer and ask the Holy Spirit to give you discernment.
Father, you have entrusted us with the precious truth of your Word. May we receive its guidance as precious treasure, and may we share your wisdom wisely. Amen.