06 November, 2013
Devotional and Practical Meditations on the Book of Ecclesiastes
"It is better to heed a wise man's rebuke, than to listen to the song of fools!" Ecclesiastes 7:5
None question this most wholesome truth; but few there are who cordially practice it themselves. "Let others be reproved; but, as for me, I cannot bear it." Thus speaks the human heart.
My soul, many are your infirmities, and none more humbling, than your dislike to receive reproof. Did I really believe myself as vile as I profess to be — would I become angry at hearing of my faults? I profess to be, "The least of saints — and the chief of sinners!" Such is a vain confession, if I am not prepared to welcome reproof! Oh, for more knowledge of myself; more of that chastened mind; more of that genuine humility which says, "Amen!" when SELF is justly censured.
Oh, what a hypocrite you are, my soul! Ready to feed upon the praise of others, and shine in imagined excellence — but how base, how beyond base, you are in reality! Oh, there is a majesty of soul; a greatness more than human — in welcoming reproof.
Music is sweet. Its cadences fall gently on the ear, and tune the heart to favor those who make it — and we thank them for their melody. Thus should you feel, when kindness prompts a friend to tell you of your faults. What can a friend do more than this? What could a friend require more of you? How grateful should you be to him, who wounds himself, in healing you — to him who is willing to bear your wrath — rather than allow you to go on in sin unchecked.
"A wise man's rebuke." Who is the "wise man" here spoken of? He who is wise enough to be faithful. Do not say, "He is not entitled to reprove me. His youth, his station, or his character, unfit him for the office. He is too harsh in his reproofs!" Had you a thorn hurting some tender part, would any be too young, too low in rank — to draw it out? Or were you locked in prison, would any be too vile to turn the key, and give you liberty? The only question to be asked is this, "Has he, then, told the truth? Is this failing or sin really mine? Has he hit the nail upon the head?" If so, your thanks are due to him.
Even though he is mistaken, and charges you wrongfully — yet you should thank him for his good intentions.
Reader, is this saying hard to you? Well, so it is to me. Of myself I cannot bear it, and I say, "Alas! who is sufficient for these things?" Would you have this meek grace? I gladly would have it too. Then, what remains for you and I? To learn of Jesus — of Him, who did no wrong, yet meekly suffered (1 Peter 1:21-23) — to study Jesus — to hide ourselves in Jesus — that we, in some poor measure, may follow in His steps!