Do Not Correct a Scoffer

It strikes me that the Old Testament lesson from last Sunday, Proverbs 9:1-10, applies to numerous situations in our life but particularly to the current national political climate.

Verses 7-8 tell us, “Whoever corrects a scoffer gets himself abuse, and he who reproves a wicked man incurs injury.  Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you; reprove a wise man, and he will love you.”

Eugene Peterson paraphrases these verses, “If you reason with an arrogant cynic, you’ll get slapped in the face; confront bad behavior and get a kick in the shins.  So don’t waste your time on a scoffer; all you’ll get for your pains is abuse.  But if you correct those who care about life, that’s different-they’ll love you for it.”

Proverbs 9 features two invitations.  “Wisdom has built her house; she has hewn her seven pillars.”  Wisdom existed from before the beginning, it participated in the creation.  When we view wisdom through the eyes of faith, we see Christ who is the wisdom of God and the power of God. (I Cor. 1)

The text ends, Verse 10, “The Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.”  Luther speaks of fear, love and trust.  Fear of the Lord is recognition that we have a responsibility to God for our life in thought word and deed, but it also involves the awesome salvation we have received through Jesus. Through the Holy Spirit we are led into a life of love and trust of God and kindness, gentleness and forbearance of one another.

Therefore, Paul writes in Ephesians 5, you once were darkness, but are now light in Christ.   Filled with the Holy Spirit we respond by living in the light of Christ.  “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise.”

However, back in Proverbs Folly is also sending out invitations, “The woman Folly is loud; she is seductive and knows nothing.”

Wisdom is knowing how to apply our insight in Christ to our life.  That which is loud and bombastic may be appealing, but is not necessarily the “wisdom” we should follow.  St. Paul tells us in Ephesians, “Let no one deceive you with empty words…understand what the will of the Lord is.”  As chapter 5 concludes we hear Paul calling us to be filled with the Spirit that we might talk to one another in psalm and songs, with thanksgiving in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.  And rather than vaunting ourselves or anyone who would do the same, “submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.  That is wisdom empowered by God for everyday living.

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