“Surely he scorneth the scorners: But he giveth grace unto the lowly.”
Proverbs 3:34 KJV
THE SIN OF SCORNFULNESS
Our text is quoted in James, where he says, “But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.” (James 4:6) Two things are to be noted: first, God scorns the scorner and, second, that God resists the proud scorner. One thing that I know is that I want to have the blessings of God rather than the opposition of God. I want God to speak well concerning me rather than having God scorn me. With this in mind, we will simply get into our lesson, so that we might learn how to avoid the sin of scornfulness.
What Is Scornfulness?
As we study scorn and scornfulness, the meaning is that of being a proud boaster, a mocker, or a scoffer. Have you ever seen a person who is constantly making fun of others, or perhaps they are always critical of others? That person is scoffing or scorning. Mockery, when people ridicule others for no good reason, is the same as scoffing or scorning.
It is useful to note that we are to be very careful how we speak of others, lest we find ourselves to be scorners who are resisted by God. Jesus said, “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.” (Mat. 5:21–22) While much more could be said about this, let it suffice us to understand that Jesus is telling us that we are to refuse to speak scornfully of others. When we say that a person is worthless, a fool, a moron, an idiot, a dumbbell, or use us some other derogatory term, we are saying that we count them unworthy of living. Sometimes we even say, “They ain’t worth knocking in the head!” Jesus is teaching us that such words are scornful words, and they show a disregard for those who are made in the image of God.
Sometimes we are harshly judgmental of others when we have no reason. James rebukes us of such and reminds us that judgment is God’s place and not ours. He asks, “There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another?” (James 4:12) The scorner is always finding fault with others and deciding what God ought to do with them. Let us beware, because such criticism is ungodly scornfulness and unacceptable to God. Who do we think we are to do this?
The Bad Character of The Scorner
A scornful person is a person of bad character. The first Psalm presents to us the scornful person as one who is ungodly and who does not enjoy God’s Word, and whose final end is to not abide the judgment. Solomon, in the Proverbs, presents the scorner to us as one who:
- Is not humble (Proverbs 3:34)
- Hates correction (Proverbs 9:8)
- Will bear his sin (Proverbs 9:12)
- Refuses to listen to the rebuke that would help him change (Proverbs 13:1)
- Refuses to listen to his parents (Proverbs 13:1)
- Will not seek wise advice (Proverbs 15:12)
- Deserves to be punished (Proverbs 19:29)
- Is a person of a bad temper, or wrath (Proverbs 21:24)
- Causes strife and reproach (Proverbs 22:10)
- Should be refused our good company (Proverbs 22:10)
When we consider these things, the scorner is certainly a person who is on their way to destruction. The scorner will often ruin relationships, mistreat other people, break up families, destroy churches, and refuse to listen to those in authority over them. This person is convinced of his righteousness, not realizing his need for God’s righteousness. The scornful person is often quick to criticize and very slow to compliment. The scornful person is defensive and will usually argue with anyone who seeks to help them correct their errors. Their sinful pride will often wear a mask of humble holiness and goodness, while they spend their time talking about what everyone else is doing wrong. They may have a look that causes others to think that they are humble, but their self-righteous and critical spirit will show their pride. The scornful person has a very bad character.
The Scorner Contrasted With The Wise
The Scripture contrasts the scorner with a wise person. Although the scorner refuses to be corrected, the wise man will love the person who cares enough to help him fix errors and sins in his life (Proverbs 9:8). The scorner will not go to seek wise counsel or advice (Proverbs 15:12), but the wise person seeks after these things and learns from them (Proverbs 1:5-9). The scorner will be punished in life for his pride and for the foolish and hurtful things he says and does, yet he will not learn from his bad experiences. The wise person, however, will learn when he is instructed (Proverbs 21:11).
It is very important to note that this scornful person is not simply scornful of men, but his mockery extends even to the God he rejects and refuses to learn from. He will receive the righteous results of his sinful pride. “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.” (Gal. 6:7–8)
Proverbs was written to direct us into wisdom and we should seek to learn the way of wisdom concerning scornfulness. Let us recognize that scornfulness is a sin of pride that moves God to work against us. There is a way to move beyond being a scorner. James told the scornful and proud people that were fighting one another and destroying the churches that they were to turn to God, draw near to Him, and humbly and sorrowfully repent so that God would lift them up (James 4:8-10). I am so very glad that God will always hear the humble plea of the broken repenting person and forgive them! Seek God. Humble yourself before Him. Learn from those God has placed as teachers in your life. Meekly accept correction and instruction. Submit yourself to God. These things will help you overcome or avoid being a scorner, and they will take you far in the pathway of godly wisdom.