PROVERB PRACTICALS Be Quick to Hear Instruction, Proverbs 10:17, Audio
Proverbs 10:17, He is in the way of life that keepeth instruction: but he that refuseth reproof erreth.
If you are a Bible believer you are well aware that God is sure to instruct you while you are in the way of life.
And that instruction contains many facts that are hard to process and hard to come to an acceptance as to their truth concerning your status before God.
The Bible is full of rebukes and reproofs concerning where all men and women stand before God.
But those rebukes are there because God loves you and wants you to know what you are so that you can rise above what you are and become what God intends for you.
Rebukes and reproofs are Godís way to bring you to truth and salvation.
They are Godís sculpturing tools that He uses to shape you into the image of his son, Jesus Christ.
What did you think when you first found out from scripture that there is none righteous, no not one; that there are none who understand; there are none that seeketh after God; there are none that doeth good.
How did you feel when first you were told that all your righteousnessí are as filthy rags.
How could God say that about such a good person as you?
What was your reaction when you found out that God said that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.
Come short means that as an unredeemed sinner you cannot come into the presence of God
I donít suppose these things did anything for your self esteem except to destroy it.
But did you rail against Godís measure of you or did you come to love him for telling you the truth about yourself so that you would know that you needed help from God to overcome your condition?
Didnít you who are saved welcome such truths which led you to your Savior?
Now please ponder this thought.
Your doctor asks you to sit down in his office and he says I want to tell you something of great importance about a disease in your body that tests have revealed.
The doctor has irrefutable evidence that you have a disease.
Now instead of wanting to hear of this evidence you rise up in great anger and arrogantly tell him you do not want to hear anything bad about your body.
You will not have it, you do not want to hear it!
But the doctor says you must hear about this bad news if you are to be helped.
You must know the truth about your condition if you expect me to help you, he says.
Now it is easy to see how preposterous the man is who treats the diagnosis of his doctor in such a foolish way.
The wise patient listens and heeds his doctorís advise and accepts the necessary treatment.
But how hard it is to see God as our great physician who tells us some very hard truths.
God knows what is needed and he shows us our condition in order for the right treatment to be applied.
Our proverb for today reminds us how important it is to obey our great physician, the great physician, not only of our body, but of our soul and spirit.
For it tells us that He is in the way of life that keepeth instruction: but he that refuseth reproof erreth.
So here in this proverb we find out how to stay in the way of life but here we also find how to stray from the way of life.
And it all has to do with how we process instruction.
We are given the word instruction and the word reproof in our proverb.
The root words for both are very similar in meaning for both words mean chastisement, correction, or rebuke.
So this proverb has to do with how you and I process chastisement, correction, or rebuke.
If you keep instruction, that is you attend to, take heed to chastisement, correction or rebuke you are told that you are in the way of life.
This is the way where life is found.
If you do not heed reproof you are in the way of error.
Reproof is blame expressed to the face.
It is that which is received during a face to face confrontation.
It usually concerns something about yourself you do not wish to hear, but according to the scriptures reproof is extremely important to how you grow as a Christian and for that matter as to how you grow in general.
For Christians only grow if they are in the way of life and you ought to want to stay in the way of life all the time.
There never ought to be a straying from this position.
Solomon wrote in Proverbs 12:1, Whoso loveth instruction loveth knowledge: but he that hateth reproof is brutish.
It is easy to see from this proverb that God wants you in a position whereby you love instruction, you love correction, you love chastisement.
This is such a foreign idea to us that we are to come to a place in our Christian growth as to love instruction, correction, and chastisement.
This is quite a requirement that God has put upon us but whatever God asks of us is for our good and He will give us the wherewithal to do it if we desire.
A major part of our Christian growth is in how we process instruction, how we deal with reproof or rebuke.
Is it something that we welcome or is it something that we shun?
But welcoming instruction in reality is the welcoming of God in your life for as I said in one of our previous proverb lessons it is the loving of the perpendicular position for that is Godís position, all other positions being crooked.
For correction, reproof, and chastisement are designed to bring you to the upright from the crooked.
Therefore the truly wise love to receive instruction.
The truly wise love knowledge and to love knowledge requires a heart that must love instruction.
God gives knowledge to those that are willing to receive instruction.
Those that are not willing to receive instruction will not be given knowledge.
Think about the practicality of this.
If you are one who bucks up against reproof and have such a reputation, donít you think that instruction to you will be hindered, for who wants to face you, for the Bible calls you brutish?
Now the kind of instruction alluded to here is instruction that is of a nature concerning a fault; instruction that requires censure; instruction where there is blame cast at the one being instructed.
The truly wise person loves knowledge because it brings him closer to God, closer to God's Word, closer to God's will as God conforms him to the image of his Son, Jesus Christ.
Let's discuss the following two examples:
Example A1: When I first used this first example in my lesson on Proverbs 12:1 about 14 or 15 years ago I believed this to be a respectable and professional reproof. Nowadays perhaps this would be considered a bit too strong so I have written a 2010 reproof following this which I think follows more closely todayís practice of instruction concerning a fault.
The principle, Mr. Edwards, says to the teacher: Mr. Green, I have been observing your seventh grade class and find your discipline lacking. Your students are unruly and your class has been out of control on every occasion I have observed. I have noticed that you are continually raising your voice above the noise level of your students and that you apparently receive no respect considering the authority that you have. I expect a change in your methods, and I expect you to observe the rules of this school and I expect to see improvement in the behavior of your students. Have I made myself clear?
Now that is how it would have been done 20 years ago but now we are to deal with Mr. Green in a gentler, softer, and more friendly way. And I might add, in a more indirect way.
Example A2: Mr. Green, How are you today? It is certainly a pleasant day to be alive. Are you finding everything to your liking here at our school? This is you first year with us and I know first years are sometimes difficult especially in the area of getting your students to listen and do what you desire them of do. As you know I have visited your classroom on several occasions and I have a few suggestions that if you take them I think will improve the situations that you face. Iíve written them down and I hope that you will consider them as you continue to teach so successfully. Thank you so much Mr. Green, for coming to see me and I believe if we work together on this, things will even be more successful.
Now both of the two foregoing examples would probably pass muster as to propriety and probably not cause Mr. Green to leave Mr. Edwardís office in anger. But what would Mr. Greenís reaction be to this example?
Example B: This I call the nasty reproof: The principle, Mr. King, says to the teacher: Green, I'm sick and tired of your rotten seventh grade class. Your students are a mess and you've made them that way. Your discipline is atrocious and you'd better shape up or you're out on your ear! Do you hear me? Out on your ear!
Now assuming that Mr. Green is a Christian and that his class is indeed out of control, what should Mr. Green's reaction be in each of these examples?
If Mr. Green is teachable the reproof of the first two examples should be sufficient for him to react in a positive manner and start changing his ways in his class.
Mr. Edwards, the principle, has full authority to instruct him and the principle has Mr. Greenís best interest in mind in giving him this instruction.
There was nothing objectionable about the method used in giving him the reproof and nothing that would turn him against the instruction nor should the method matter if the instruction is valid.
In the second example he may be sidetracked by the method of instruction and anger may well up toward the principle.
He may say, I can't believe he treated me that way!
Here I am slaving in my classroom for the good of the students and I get rebuked so harshly.
See if he gets any cooperation out of me, Mr. Green rants!
Now if Mr. Green does this he concentrates on the method of reproof and not on the instruction.
If he does this he will not grow but only shrink.
So many times we are hurt when we receive reproof but that is because we concentrate on the method of the reproof and not the instruction that comes from the reproof.
Sometimes the one giving the reproof, like Mr. King, is not very good at giving reproof but that should not hinder us from receiving the instruction and growing by it.
Donít get sidetracked by the method of instruction and take no thought about the instruction.
I have seen on many occasions the method of instruction attacked while the instruction was not even considered as worthy of acceptance.
And when this happens no growth take place.
The lesson is, we must not concentrate on the method of rebuke or reproof, we must concentrate on the instruction we receive from the reproof.
We cannot change the person giving the reproof or the method of reproof but by the grace of God we can change the person receiving the reproof.
It is rare to receive this kind of instruction in our day because the common belief is for people to be positive and to not censure or find blame with another.
Instruction by reproof is avoided because people are brutish about receiving this kind of instruction and what friend or supervisor wants to face a brute.
Jonah 2:8 speaks of such people, They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy.
They that observe lying vanities think of themselves higher than they ought.
Jesus called the Pharisees whited sepulchers because they observed lying vanities.
Whited sepulchers because they presented themselves as beautiful outwardly but within were full of dead menís bones.
They made every effort to appear outwardly righteous unto men, but within were full of hypocrisy and iniquity.
They cared only about their outward image but Jesus, who is the Word of God, knew of the uncleanness of their heart.
They continued to hold on to these lying vanities in spite of being told by the Son of God what they, in fact were.
The Pharisees rejected the reproof of Godís word and forsook instruction and therefore knowledge, and in doing this they forsook mercy.
But God, who is Love, wants his children to grow and He knows that you will grow if you love instruction.
Get a reputation as one who is teachable and you will find yourself attracting teachers to help you.
Get a reputation as un-teachable and no one will come to help you grow for you observe lying vanities and therefore forsake the mercies of one who loves you enough to rebuke you.
A great place to gain the love of instruction and to hone this talent is in the home.
Husbands and wives usually are good at instructing each other and sometimes the instruction is not very well given.
Now your instructing and rebuking skills ought to be improved as time goes by but donít make that your overriding concern as to your learning from the instruction.
Try hard to get past the method and focus on the instruction so that you will grow and not shrink.