A couple came into my office for counseling a few years back. They were having problems and wanted advice or I assumed they did. They told me their issues. They gave me some background on their history in their marriage. They both gave me their perspective on the problems they were facing. It was time to give some input and so I started down the road in giving my insight as to my perspective. Immediately the husband cut me off, became defensive and pontificated upon his perspective. When he finished, I asked him if he wanted my input. He indicated he did so I told him he had cut me off and I began to give my input. Again he cut me off and went off again. This pattern happened 2-3 more times, so I quit trying to give my input and sat there and just listened.
We have come across or will encounter people who have or are making wrong decisions in their life. Regarding relationships. Regarding work choices. Personal decisions that are negatively affecting their lifestyle. We can see from the outside what they are doing wrong and we have some answers that could make their present life much better. What do we say or do in those situations?
Solomon speaks to this situation when he says, “The one who corrects a mocker will bring abuse on himself; the one who rebukes the wicked will get hurt. Don’t rebuke a mocker, or he will hate you; rebuke the wise, and he will love you. Instruct the wise, and he will be wiser still; teach the righteous, and he will learn more.”
Proverbs 9:7-9 CSB. A mocker is one who isn’t interested in getting any advice for themselves. A mocker is a disagreeable and unpleasant person. They think they know it all and don’t need anyone to give them any advice. So if we try to advise them, the mocker will turn their anger and angst around and we will get the brunt of their mocking. If we seek to give advice to the wicked we will get hurt in the end. Giving advice to a wise person is the only route that ends well for us. It says that the wise person will love us. The wise person will thank us for our input and be grateful for the insight that we have given them
So how do we know if someone is ready to hear our input? The easiest way to find out if someone is willing to hear input is by asking them, “Would you like my input?” If they say yes, they are forced to listen to what you have to say. If you see defensiveness or denial in what you are saying, they are probably not ready to hear any advice and you need to back off. Only wise people will be willing to hear counsel and work on areas in their life that are defective.
On this journey, we need to be cautious as to the input that we give to people. The more we ascertain who the wicked and mockers are, the better response we will get from people we give advice to.