Strike a scoffer, and the simple will become wary; Rebuke one who has understanding, and he will discern knowledge. (Proverbs 19:25)
Punishment is the only way for some to turn from their foolishness, while others will turn by way of a rebuke. Scoffers require the rod. Those with understanding need only the word. Which are you? What does it take for you to be corrected? Seek to be one who receives instruction from a word rightly spoken or the Word rightly preached. I have found that those who do not receive instruction through the preaching of God's Word on a Sunday morning, will not hear it in counseling on a Monday night. They will have to learn by the school of hard knocks—if they learn it at all. When it comes to teaching, preaching or counseling, you cannot turn a scoffer with a gentle word. A scoffer must be dealt with severely. While the tenderhearted need only a soft rebuke. Know how to deal with each. Applying the wrong correction can cause more harm than good.