(November 28, 2014)
I have read through Solomon’s advice about being capable of receiving correction a number of times. The more experience that I have with the world, the more that I realize he is correct. There are some people who, when you give them criticism, they take it seriously and do what they can to implement it into their lives. They strive to repent and struggle to become better and view correction as an important tool for overcoming the self-deception that we are all cursed with. Others, though, will accept no correction. They attack those who dare to point out any deficiencies in their character. They believe themselves wholly free from the Fall, from any wrongdoing altogether (or they genuflect to the idol of ‘of course I have some sins, but nothing major’), and accuse anyone who disagrees with their position. I have been both in my life – the person who could accept correction and the person who could not. I can testify that Solomon is correct here.
But when I read this part today, my mind went in a different way. I thought of it as a speaker today rather than as a hearer. Yes, the scorner will not receive correction, and the wise will accept it. But the language can be read as well that when we are talking to the scorner we are not to correct them but to the wise we can share correction. This would make sense, in light of our obligation to avoid contention. When we are talking with someone who has placed themselves beyond the reach of criticism (for whatever reason) we are best not to criticize them, no matter our intentions. But when someone is humble and wise an willing to accept criticism, we can at that point share with them our thoughts (or, if in a position to do so, actual counsel) when it is appropriate.