Correcting Scorners and Rebuking Wicked Men is Harmful

Proverbs 9 by Chris Banescu –
The Bible warns us that confronting and trying to correct and rebuke scornful and wicked individuals can be harmful. The Proverbs caution that “he who corrects a scorner [scoffer] gets shame for himself” and “he who rebukes a wicked man only harms himself” (Proverbs 9:7). The Scriptures further instruct us to “not correct a scoffer, lest he hate you,” but instead “rebuke a wise man, and he will love you” (Proverbs 9:8).

A scorner (or scoffer) is typically someone who treats others with disdain and contempt, someone who unjustifiably considers others as despicable and unworthy.

Scoffers and the wicked unfairly dislike and disrespect anyone they disagree with, even on the smallest of points. They insult and ridicule those who try to correct and rebuke them, frequently responding with open hostility and outright hatred. They always resort to attacking the messenger and ignoring the message. The more reasonable, logical, and true the messages are, the greater the insults and anger that scorners direct at the messengers.

This wisdom from Proverbs has been proven true in my own life experiences. No matter how reasonable and considerate we are in our approach and how well defended our arguments are, scorners and wicked men will not acknowledge our message or reply in kind. They will instead respond with foolishness, mockery, and hatred. The harder we try to persuade them and help them to see the truth, the higher the intensity of their animosity towards us. This should come as no surprise to those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. Our Lord and Savior condemned the wicked men of His time who also “hated Him without a cause” (John 15:25).

The longer we engage wicked individuals, the more unsettled and disquieted our hearts will be.

As it is written in the Book of Proverbs, this unjustified hatred causes harm to those who seek goodness and truth. The spiritual darkness and intense contempt of evil men do affect us. We inevitably lose our inner peace and become troubled when we interact with scorners. The longer we engage wicked individuals, the more unsettled and disquieted our hearts will be. The spiritual dimension of the battle between good and evil takes its toll on us. “For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places,” writes St. Paul the Apostle (Ephesians 6:12).

Sometimes we cannot easily discern if the person we’re correcting or rebuking is a scoffer or a wicked individual. But once we notice the warning signs and sense the increasing hatred and spiritual darkness assaulting us, we must disengage and walk away. It is a lost cause. As Christ Himself teaches us “if anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town” (Matthew 10:14).

7 “He who corrects a scorner [scoffer] gets shame for himself,
And he who rebukes a wicked man only harms himself.

8 Do not correct a scoffer, lest he hate you;
Rebuke a wise man, and he will love you.

9 Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser;
Teach a just man, and he will increase in learning. (Proverbs 9:7-9)

3 thoughts on “Correcting Scorners and Rebuking Wicked Men is Harmful

  1. This is a very astute observation that is difficult to remember when we are confronted with wickedness. We want to prove our point and if we cant, we leave feeling inadequate , unable to intellectually present our case. But as Chris reminds us, this is not a struggle against the flesh but against dark spiritual forces. In the end, it will be Christ who defeats these forces.

    • Fine reflection on the dark side of the attempt to enlighten others — when they are not listening with the inner ear. It also occurs to me that persisting with “wicked men” can become an occasion of pride, that is, to persist as if we were the grace of God! — in addition to the darkness that comes upon us in continuing to persuade such folks. We should retreat in silence, pray for them, recall that we once were wicked, and that but for the Grace of God, and our inspired free will, we do not become wicked again.

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