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Reproof

Webster’s 1824 Dictionary defines reproof as “Blame expressed to the face”. Whoa! Who wants be reproved!? Bluntly being told that we are wrong can be quite uncomfortable - it can even make us angry – sometimes very angry! But the Bible is full of reproof, and wise people will submit to wise reproof.

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:”

II Timothy 3:16


Reproof is a an essential part of the ministry of the Holy Spirit:

“Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:”

John 16:7-8


The following verse describes what our attitude should be toward godly reproof:

“Let the righteous smite me; it shall be a kindness: and let him reprove me; it shall be an excellent oil, which shall not break my head: for yet my prayer also shall be in their calamities.” Psalm 141:5


God’s word gives us understanding. Reproof guides us in the way of life:

“For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life:”

Proverbs 6:23


Two things are needful for godly reproof to be a blessing: a wise reprover and an obedient “reprovee”. Then reproof becomes a thing of great worth and beauty:

“As an earring of gold, and an ornament of fine gold, so is a wise reprover upon an obedient ear.”

Proverbs 25:12


Let’s look at an example of reproof in the book of Job. Job was a very godly man who fell into some sin. A godly man named Elihu reproved Job near the end of Job’s great trial. Elihu’s anger was stirred mightily against sin and falsehood but his desire was to restore Job out of love. This is exactly how God is. The name “Elihu” basically means “absolutely of God”. Let’s take a look at how this godly man reproved Job in chapter 33 of the book of Job:


Elihu got his own heart right with God first, then he spoke the truth clearly (vs. 3):

“My words shall be of the uprightness of my heart: and my lips shall utter knowledge clearly.”


Eljhu admitted that he was nothing apart from God (vs. 4):

“The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life.”


Elihu invited Job to respond to his reproof (vs. 5):

“If thou canst answer me, set thy words in order before me, stand up.”


Elihu admitted that he was just like Job in God’s eyes (vs. 6):

“Behold, I am according to thy wish in God's stead: I also am formed out of the clay.”


Elihu had a gentle hand (vs. 7):

“Behold, my terror shall not make thee afraid, neither shall my hand be heavy upon thee.”


But Elihu was not afraid to plainly address Job’s sin (vss. 8-11):

“Surely thou hast spoken in mine hearing, and I have heard the voice of thy words, saying, I am clean without transgression, I am innocent; neither is there iniquity in me. Behold, he findeth occasions against me, he counteth me for his enemy, He putteth my feet in the stocks, he marketh all my paths.”


Elihu identified Job’s sin precisely and explained it to Job explicitly. Then he presented the remedy for his sin in a simple manner (vss. 12-13):

“Behold, in this thou art not just: I will answer thee, that God is greater than man. Why dost thou strive against him? for he giveth not account of any of his matters.”


God then reproved Job directly and the result was Job’s repentance, his forgiveness of others, and God’s wonderful blessing upon him:

“And the LORD turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends: also the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before.”

Job 42:10


“As an earring of gold, and an ornament of fine gold,

so is a wise reprover upon an obedient ear.”

Proverbs 25:12

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