Few people can endure a reproof, and fewer still can extract and utilize the grain of golden wisdom which a reproof always contains. Vanity is so deeply rooted in human nature that very few attempt to tear up the vile weed which is fed and fostered by the rains of flattery, and the fruits of which are mortification, chagrin and shame.
The vain man loves flattery and hates reproof. He courts the company of the impostor who flatters him, and is thereby constantly being deceived. The friend who reproves his vanity he turns away, and hates the man who would be to him a continual protection.
As the flower attracts the bee, so the vain man attracts to himself impostors and deceivers, who suck his substance and leave him mortified and disconsolate.
As a skilled musician plays upon his instrument, so plays the flatterer upon the mind of the vain man; agreeing with him in all things, pleasing him in all his fancies, and making him feel so happy with himself and his condition that he becomes an easy prey.
The flatterer cannot endure the presence of the wise man who has overcome vanity, and whose very silence is a powerful rebuke, but flees from him, finding in him no material on which his flattery can work.
The wise man seeks the company of those who reprove him, knowing that in reproof there is safety and wisdom. He avoids and repels those who flatter, knowing that in flattery there is danger and folly.
When reproved, the wise man carefully considers the reproof and applies it to himself, thereby becoming wiser. The foolish man rejects a reproof with passion, refusing to entertain or consider it, and thereby increases his folly.
To the vain man flattery is as sweet as honey and reproof as bitter as gall. To the wise man flattery is as a bitter poison and reproof as the nectar of the gods.
Only the wise man knows how to rightly and gently reprove, but even the reproof of a foolish man is not to be despised.
Reproof, being the great enemy of vanity, is very painful to the worldly mind, but the Heavenly mind, being set on the acquisition of truth, entertains reproof as an honored guest.
An enemy flatters to gain his own ends; a friend reproves, not thinking of himself.
He who entertains flattery hugs a serpent to his breast, which will presently crush him in its coils. He who entertains reproof opens his door to an angel who shall clothe him in garments of strength and cover him with a mantle of protection.
He who turns his back upon flattery will leave behind him much darkness, and will escape much suffering and humiliation. He who turns his face toward reproof will approach greater light, and will increase his happiness and strength.
—1 Peter 3:10
One color in thy life the hue of truth.
More from James Allen
James Allen was a little-known philosophical writer and poet. He is best recognized for his book, As a Man Thinketh. Allen wrote about complex subjects such as faith, destiny, love, patience, and religion but had the unique ability of explaining these subjects clearly and in a way that is easy to understand. He often wrote about cause and effect, sowing and reaping, as well as overcoming sadness, sorrow, and grief. For more information on the life of James Allen, click here.