Proverbs 19:25 (ESV) “Strike a scoffer, and the simple will learn prudence; reprove a man of understanding, and he will gain knowledge.”

There are two ways to be corrected. They are punishment or reproof. The first may just cause a reaction. The second should cause learning. The threat of the first will cause some people to stop foolish or illegal behavior some of the time. But, unfortunately, it often makes them seek ways to continue their bad behavior and avoid being caught. Radar detectors were created to avoid being caught: “I don’t want to abide by the speed limit, and I don’t want to be caught and punished either.” Punishment might help, but the underlying issues remain. Pride and selfishness are deeply ingrained. This is unloving and disregards the needs and importance of others.

There is another type of correction that understanding people receive: reproof. Rather than punishment, all they need is a word of reproof. This form of correction requires mercy, patience and helpful instruction. As a result, the woman or “man of understanding” gains knowledge. The knowledge isn’t how to avoid the law but how to live well with others. For a driver, it is concern about the well-being of yourself, your passengers and your fellow commuters. It is about the greatest commandment Jesus gave: to love God and to love your neighbor as you love yourself.

Many in the wealthy, powerfully, celebrity and government classes don’t respond well to reproof. Many not in those classes also dislike reproof. They are proud and defensive. The problem, perhaps, is that they are not people of understanding.

The question then is: “which one are you?” Are you someone who is open to a rebuke and instruction, or is your first response to make excuses and look for a way to be self-centered and self-justified? It really isn’t hard to spot both types. The first signs are pride or humility in the immediate facial responses and body language. Then the words you say confirm your signals.