Three reasons to be receptive to reproof

By Annie Garman

I can remember clearly where I was standing the first time it happened. I was engaged, and we were standing outside my fiance’s dorm room on a cold spring day. He was talking in a very serious voice, one that I hadn’t yet heard. I had done something wrong, and he was correcting me. I started to argue and defend my position, and he responded by quoting a proverb.

“Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid” (Proverbs 12:1 ESV).Thankfully, he didn’t use that version.

Since that day, many similar conversations have followed. Early on, it wasn’t pretty. I would scratch and claw at defending my turf, convinced he didn’t understand. Instead of listening to his correction and learning from it, I condemned him for his delivery and tone.

I guess I shouldn’t speak in the past tense so confidently.

The truth is, this is a daily struggle in the Garman home.

However, in the past month as we’ve been doing a sermon series on Proverbs at church, I can feel the Holy Spirit pounding this issue in my heart. I’m starting to realize I’ve been what the Bible calls a fool, a scoffer who “does not listen to rebuke” (Proverbs 13:1). Being receptive to reproof is a sign of those who possess wisdom. “A fool despises his father’s instruction, but whoever heeds reproof is prudent” (Proverbs 15:5).

Have you ever heard of the Johari window? In this learning tool, there are four quadrants of self-awareness. The quadrant that is most disturbing to me is the “blind spot.” The one where others see something about us that we can’t see about ourselves. This fact alone is one of the reasons we need reproof: we can’t always see the things that need correcting.

The following thoughts were inspired by my husband’s sermon on Receiving Reproof.

1. If you want to grow in wisdom, you’ve got to listen to reproof.

I could say many things here, but I think the Bible says it best.

“Whoever heeds instruction is on the path to life, but he who rejects reproof leads others astray” (Proverbs 10:17).

“Poverty and disgrace come to him who ignores instruction, but whoever heeds reproof is honored” (Proverbs 13:18).

“The ear that listens to life-giving reproof will dwell among the wise” (Proverbs 15:31).

“A rebuke goes deeper into a man of understanding than a hundred blows into a fool” (Proverbs 17:10).

2. Correction and reproof are a sign of genuine love.

If God didn’t love us, He would let us continue in our sin, unchecked. “My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the LORD reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights“(Proverbs 3:11-12). Here, we’re encouraged to be grateful for reproof as it reminds us of God’s concern for our sanctification.

Not only is rebuke a sign of God’s love for us, but also of the sincere love of others. Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy” (Proverbs 27:5-6).

3. There is great danger to going through life without corrective influences.

“The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother” (Proverbs 29:15).

“Cease to hear instruction, my son, and you will stray from the words of knowledge” (Proverbs 19:27).

“There is severe discipline for him who forsakes the way; whoever hates reproof will die … A scoffer does not like to be reproved; he will not go to the wise” (Proverbs 15:10-12).

There is so much to meditate on here, and it’s my prayer that you would be sensitive to those in your life with the guts to correct you. Next post we’ll talk about GIVING reproof … a much avoided topic for many of us!

Published December 5, 2016

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Annie Garman

Annie and her husband Colby live in Northern Virginia where Colby serves as the teaching pastor of Pillar Church. Before their church ministry days, they served for two years as IMB missionaries in Iceland. Annie spends her days taking care of her four daughters, writing and ministering at her local church. She shares about motherhood, mayhem, and the meaning of life from a place of transparency at