Several years ago, as we were enjoying dinner with friends, my nine year old daughter questioned me out of the blue. “Mummy, why do you always eat with your mouth open?” This was followed by an exaggerated impersonation of how she suggested I ate.
As you can imagine, I was horrified. “Abigail, don’t be rude! Of course I don’t eat with my mouth open… do I, daddy?” (Remember we had guests with us). I was shocked at my husband’s response. “I gave up trying to stop you eating with your mouth open about fifteen years ago!”
I was appalled. I started to think about all the people I had dined with: family, friends, pastors, colleagues – the list went on. For a while, I protested. However, in the end I had to concede and I decided to work on this ugly, lifelong habit.
It was excruciating to have something so embarrassing pointed out by a child in front of guests, but it was worth it. In two weeks, I cracked the problem. As a result of my daughter’s brutal honesty, I am now a more sociable eater!
Way to go
Proverbs 6:23 says: “Reproofs of instruction are the way of life.” In the Hebrew, ‘reproof’ means rebuke and ‘instruction’ really means correction.
Believe it or not, the Bible is telling us that correction is the route to a great life. Rebukes help us understand our mistakes and change our behaviour so that we can become the people we need to be to fulfil our potential.
Most of us have experienced correction. Perhaps your spouse has pointed out your inadequacies or a friend has exposed your secret faults. Maybe a pastor has highlighted an area for growth or a relative has revealed your weaknesses. The truth is that not many of us like having our attitudes or behaviour challenged.
If it’s for my good, why am I so defensive?
When an army is under attack, it must defend itself. So why is it that many of us react as though we are under siege when friends, colleagues, bosses, leaders or spouses speak into our lives?
Maybe as you were growing up, parents, teachers or friends hurt you with their words. Perhaps you have been wounded as an adult.
Proverbs 12:18 says, “There is one who speaks like the piercings of a sword.” Words can be like arrows. They can hurt our feelings, squash our dreams and crush our confidence.
If you’ve suffered verbal attacks in the past, when you hear words of correction, you may see a gun to your head. At the first sign of negativity, you resist. You protect yourself against attack.
We can end up thinking any corrective word is a weapon for our destruction. We therefore learn to build walls and defence mechanisms to repel what we imagine are the attacks of others.