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.
WILLIAM S. PLUMER (1802-1880): Reproof to him who needs comfort will break the head. Encouragement to the self-confident will bring on them strong delusions. There is a time for everything; a wise man regardeth both time and judgment, Ecclesiastes 8:5.
RICHARD SIBBES (1577-1635): It requires more than ordinary wisdom to manage it aright. This string must not be too tight, nor too loose.
BENJAMIN KEACH (1640-1704): The tongue is the instrument, but it must be tuned with grace, or the music will not be sweet in Christ’s ears.
JOHN TRAPP (1601-1699): Some warmth must be in a reproof, but it must not be scalding hot.
GEORGE SWINNOCK (1627-1673) Reproofs should be as oils or ointments, gently rubbed in by the warm fire of love.
VERNON CHARLESWORTH (1839-1915): Rowland Hill was sometimes [delightfully apt] in his manner of conveying reproof. Once, when arrangements were being made for the organization of a public society, the persons present were talking over who should be proposed as fit members of the committee. Several names of persons who were engaged in trade having been mentioned, a gentleman [then remarked] that he thought some regard should be paid to the respectability of the society, and that “tag, rag, and bob-tail should not compose the committee.” Mr. Hill easily saw through the flimsy guise which ill concealed the pride of the human heart; he rose, therefore, and lifting up his hands as in the attitude of prayer, exclaimed, “God bless tag—God bless rag—God bless bob-tail!” Having uttered these words he sat down, and the tradesmen were placed on the committee without another word in the way of opposition.
C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): What Rowland Hill was on one side of the Thames River, Matthew Wilks was upon the other. Wilks came to London in 1775 and [was ordained] over the Tabernacle churches which had been gathered by George Whitefield. He was a man of commanding appearance, of great shrewdness, and special singularity, and, like other worthy men, he has been much belied because a vein of humour was manifest in him…My friend George Rogers has given me the following note—
A minister [once] called upon Matthew Wilks, and informed him that he was in great distress of mind on account of debt. Wilks said, “You are a great fool; you ought not to get in debt.”
“Oh,” he replied, “it gradually accumulated, and I could not help it. My wife was ill, some of my children died, and my income is very small.”
“How much do you owe?”
“Seventy pounds! Then you are a great fool! I want you to preach at Greenwich next Sunday.”
“Oh, I am too much dejected [to go].”
“But I say you must go, and I will send a note to the gentleman with whom you must dine.”
Returning to Wilkes on Monday morning, he told him the gentleman with whom he had dined gave him £10. “Well,” said Wilks, “you are a fool for getting into debt for all that.” Wilks then produced another £10, and said he had obtained that from another gentleman for him. Observing him to be much affected by this, Wilks added, “Still, you are a great fool.” He then produced another £10, called him a fool more vehemently than before, and thus continued to put £10 before him again and again and to scold him until the whole £70 was produced. Then Wilks said, “Now go home, and don’t be such a fool as to get into debt again.”
JOHN NEWTON (1725-1807): Reproof in secret, in season, and in love―that is the right thing.