September 5

The Scoffer

2 Peter 3:3-4a Knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming?”

Proverbs 13:1 A wise son heeds his father’s instruction, but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke.

Proverbs 19:29 Judgments are prepared for scoffers, and beatings for the backs of fools.

Proverbs 22:10 Cast out the scoffer, and contention will leave; yes, strife and reproach will cease.

Psalm 1:1 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful.

The subject of scoffers is an unhappy one. But since the scriptures address it so frequently, the Lord must want us to be aware of scoffers, how they work, and what to do. Many associate the scoffer with the end times, and 2 Peter makes it clear that they will arise at that time, heaping doubt and scorn on believers and belief.

But there are other kinds of scoffers that are subtler in their sin. The simple definition is one who derides, scorns or heaps ridicule. For Christians, this is not the person who simply disagrees with you. It’s the one who actively engages with you so that they can make fun of you or what you believe, even to the point of showing disdain.

We mustn’t dismiss the argumentative person outright; perhaps they are struggling with God on their way to faith. But we can’t be naïve about the reality of the scoffer. They don’t listen to rebuke (Proverbs 13:1), and Proverbs 19:29 makes it clear that God is watching and will move. Our goal is two-fold: to not sit in the seat of the scornful (which means not to spend a great deal of time with them or make them close friends), and to cast them out so that contention will cease.

This last instruction is difficult but necessary for leaders, as scoffers don’t want to learn, and they ask questions already prepared to decimate what comes out of your mouth. When faced with a scoffer once, the author felt he was in the middle of a skeet shoot—whatever I answered was immediately shot down. The scoffer’s questions had neither to do with curiosity or with a desire to learn, but was designed only to create something to shoot at.

Unhappier than the existence of scoffers outside the kingdom is the occasional scoffer inside, the one who truly knows Jesus but is bound in a behavior pattern that continually contends with others and always seems to find an opposite position to take from yours. For them, we show love, but avoid the arguments. And if we notice a pattern, we pray for them.

Prayer: Father, help me to avoid getting caught in the scoffer’s argument, whether the scoffer is a believer or not. Give me wisdom in that moment to show love, but to follow Your leading out of contention. And please cleanse me of any tendency in that direction that might exist in me.

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