Yes, I know: that's a gross title for this post. But you have to admit, we've all done it as children. Even though our mothers told us not to. And even though the result was usually a painful sore which is open and bleeding all over again. Some people pick scabs throughout their lives. And some pick as a result of a mental imbalance or dementia. But as our mothers told us, it's really not a good idea. However, in my nursing practice I do a lot of wound care, and sometimes as part of aiding the wound healing process, I do pick scabs. I can hear generations of mothers gasping in horror, but sometimes it is in the best interests of that wound to have the scab removed. A scab can actually slow down the healing process. I need a moist open wound bed for proper healing to take place. A scab is dry and crusty. Now I am not recommending that everyone start picking their scabs. On the contrary. You can do more harm than good. Even for a professional like me, picking scabs can be a delicate business. I need to remove it in such a way as to prevent bleeding, which will only lead to another scab, avoid further pain as much as possible, and not remove healthy tissue along with the scab.
Reproving someone is kind of like picking scabs. There are definitely times when it needs to be done. As a matter of fact, the Bible even instructs us to "reprove, rebuke, exhort." 2 Timothy 4:2, but it's something that must be done delicately and knowledgeably, lest we leave a painful, bleeding wound. The rest of this verse says "with all longsuffering and doctrine," or "Do this with great patience and careful teaching." (ERV). Reproving, like picking scabs, should never be done with impatience or agression, and it should always be accompanied by patient teaching in the correct course to take. And just as a nurse evaluates whether picking the scab is the best course to take, or whether it should be referred to a physician for debriding, so, too, if we feel someone needs to be reproved, we need to evaluate if it's our work or if we should refer it in prayer to the Holy Spirit. After all, Jesus said that it is the Holy Spirit's job to "reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment." John 16:8. Let's make sure we are not trying to do the Holy Spirit's job. Let's not wound unnecessarily someone that we should be trying to heal.