(Proverbs 14:6 KJV) A scorner seeketh wisdom, and findeth it not: but knowledge is easy unto him that understandeth.
What is the difference between needed criticism and scoffing? In our day it is hard to admit that criticism has its place. We only want to hear happy thoughts. When I sit in a meeting over a student who has been a royal pain for years and shows no concern about his behavior, the person in charge will start by saying, “Okay. What are the strengths of this student?” Excuse me. We are not here to discuss his strengths. His strengths are disruption and destruction. No one wants to hear that. Two words that have been banned from the public square are “bad” and “evil”.
Yet there is a personality that Proverbs is talking about, the “scorner" (scoffer NASB) (3917b). This is not talking about someone who has negative things to say, it goes more to the attitude of the person. When you look at how the word is used you see “mock” and “scorn” being used. The scoffer is there to undermine and destroy. Usually his target will be the good things that God is trying to build. It is hard to believe that a “scoffer” (3917b) ever does anything with sincerity.
I think “seeks” (1245) should be in quotation marks here. Other places in Proverbs it becomes clear that the naive will find answers if they really want to find them. My question would be, “How hard are they seeking?” The attitude of our seeking is key.
I know I must fight this tendency. There are times when a loyal opposition is needed, true, but it is too easy to pick things apart because you like picking. At the same time, I am a history teacher. I think that saying, “We tried this before and it did not work” is a worthwhile statement. The object is not to try something again but to figure out why it did not work before and what can we do different to make it work. In the current election one of the quotes I heard coming up frequently went something like, “Insanity is doing the same thing over again and expecting different results.” I think it is attributed to Einstein.
So, don’t be a scoffer. There are times when it is a conscious choice. Always ask yourself if you are mocking to frustrate or questioning to find answers. It makes a difference.