Reproof (תֹּכִחִת גּעָרָה, ἔλεγχος), blame or reprehension spoken to a person's face. It is distinguished from a reprimand thus: he who reproves another, points out his fault, and blames him; he who reprimands affects to punish, and mortifies the offender. In giving reproof, the following rules may be observed:
1. We should not be forward in reproving our elders or superiors, but rather to remonstrate and supplicate for redress. What the ministers of God do in this kind, they do by special commission as those that must give an account (1Ti 5:1; Heb 13:17).
2. We must not reprove rashly; there should be proof before reproof.
3. We should not reprove for slight matters, for such faults or defects as proceed from natural frailty, from inadvertency, or mistake in matters of small consequence.
4. We should never reprove unseasonably, as to the time, the place, or the circumstances.
5. We should reprove mildly and sweetly, in the calmest manner, in the gentlest terms.
6. We should not affect to be reprehensive; perhaps there is no one considered more troublesome than he who delights in finding fault with others.
In receiving reproof, it may be observed,
1. That we should not reject it merely because it may come from those who are not exactly on a level with ourselves.
2. We should consider whether the reproof given be not actually deserved; and whether, if the reprover knew all, the reproof would not be sharper than it is.
3. Whether, if taken humbly and patiently, it will not be of great advantage to us.
4. That it is nothing but pride to suppose that we are never to be the subjects of reproof, since it is human to err.