11 My son, do not
despise the LORD’s discipline
and do not resent his rebuke,
12 because the LORD disciplines those he loves,
as a father the son he delights in. Proverbs
make few top 10 lists of favorite gifts. While the Proverbs don’t use the term criticism, there are many passages that
talk about receiving a rebuke. Almost surprisingly, the Proverbs teach that
receiving a rebuke is often a good thing. Chapter 9 goes so far as to say that a
wise man will love you if you rebuke him (9:8). Since the Garden, our natural
tendency is to avoid blame and shift responsibility to others when our actions
are challenged. It is easy to think we have been unfairly assessed. Yet if we
do not welcome rebuke (criticism), we are not acting wisely.
A significant part
of parenting is about building up people—your
children (2 Cor. 13:10b). If we are honest before God, we must acknowledge that
the person we see in the mirror has many flaws and weaknesses that make it
difficult for our children to follow our direction. In fact, it is truly amazing that anyone would
want to follow our direction! This is a why a wise man loves a rebuke. He knows
he needs help. He also knows that God is committed to providing this help. That
is the point of Proverbs 3:11-12. If we bristle at the rebuke of others we will
also bristle at the rebuke of God.
God rebukes us
because he loves us—because he delights
in us. This is contrary to what seems natural. Too often we discipline out of
frustration and exasperation. (For example, have you ever said, “How many times
have I told you not to do that?”) There is an inner weariness that accompanies
direction given in frustration rather than delight. God, on the other hand,
delights to discipline us because he knows that we need correction and he is
committed to helping you and me become more complete in Christ.
If we reject God’s
rebuke we are, in fact, implying that we don’t need a rebuke; we are fine the
way we are. I can hear someone saying, “But I wouldn’t resist a rebuke from God,
but my wife—that’s a different story.” This is where wisdom comes in. The wise
man knows that God, who is in control of all things—even a wife’s speech—is
committed to bringing about godly change in your life. A wise parent knows that he or she is far from perfect.
Therefore, wise parents are eagerly
looking for the ways that God will show them where they need to change. Thus,
the wise man loves a rebuke (especially from his wife) because he knows he
needs to hear it. Even if a rebuke is not given in the kindest way, the wise
man still learns from it. He knows that his heavenly Father is delighting in
him when he receives a rebuke. He knows that this rebuke is a sign that he is
Parents, how do
you respond to a rebuke? How do you give a rebuke?
Here are some
questions to help you think about how you can grow in wisdom
· to love a rebuke and
· to give direction from an attitude of delight.
How do you
typically respond to criticism or rebuke? Be honest and specific with your
· Do you defend your behavior and explain it away?
· Do you counter-attack?
· Do you clam up? Do you merely say, “I’ll think about it”?
· Do you agree in a way that is designed to get past the critique as
quickly as possible?
· Do you try to understand the ways in which the criticism is accurate?
· Do you humbly ask others for insight and feedback?
When you correct
your children , do they sense that your correction is given because you delight
in them and want to help them grow in wisdom—or because you are frustrated with
Think about these
things. Why not comment so that others can benefit from your thoughts? Better
still, bring these thoughts before God and ask him to make you a wise parent who loves a rebuke.