Engage the Wise Man

“Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you;

reprove a wise man, and he will love you.”

(Proverbs 9: 8)

In this often contentious and quarrelsome world, could this verse be a guide by which we can gain wisdom as to when, with whom, and in what manner we engage in conversation; in particular, conversations that address spiritual, political, or moral issues? A scoffer is one whose attitude toward a person or subject matter is mocking, scornful, or derisive. Therefore, this proverb seems to indicate that you will most likely encounter hostility when attempting to chide a scoffer concerning a view that he is already scornfully set against. On the other hand, if a person is wise; that is, humbly willing to listen to truth, he will appreciate and highly regard you for sharing that truth with him.

Jesus said, “Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest” (John 4:35). While Jesus was specifically talking about sharing the gospel—the most important truth we could ever share—I believe the wisdom of this discerning approach can guide us in most of our conversations. The “fields were ripe”…the people were ready and willing to hear at that time and there was no need to wait; spreading the gospel was an urgent need, and there were many people who were ready to receive it. The message of John 4:35 is that the time for gathering the harvest of souls into the Kingdom of God is always now. It may be that this could apply to other critically important truths—they should be shared in a timely manner, because there are those who are ready to receive those truths who would greatly benefit from knowing them.

Do not try to convince a scoffer…

but engage a wise man.