Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge,
but he who hates reproof is stupid.
(Proverbs 12:1, English Standard Version)
Among many clear directives I grew up with, and established in our home as we began having children, was this: you do not have the right to call somebody else stupid.
And then along comes Solomon, the Bible, Proverbs 12:1, and challenges all my upbringing and parental direction. Sheesh. What gives?
We should start by asking what the word ‘stupid’ means.
Of course, there is the obvious definition: ‘lacking sense or understanding’, or ‘marked by a lack of intellectual acuity.’ And however harsh the word may be in our culture, and justifiable the reason for using it rarely, we can’t deny the truth of it. But, in the Bible, it is used in another way. It communicates a lack of reasoning that bears a beastly brutish-ness about it. As in:
I was so brutish [stupid] and ignorant—
I must have seemed like a senseless animal to you.
Or how the Bible describes such behavior this way:
If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us,
we guide their whole bodies as well.
Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding,
which must be curbed with bit and bridle,
or it will not stay near you.
Do you see the pattern of the Bible’s wise counsel for us? God wants us to know, through Proverbs 12:1, that there will be people he will place into our lives to give us input and feedback on our behavior and living. They will provide knowledge as a way to disciple us (that’s what discipline is, discipleship.). And when we love that kind of helpful feedback, when we listen and take it in, we are showing that we love knowledge. It helps us grow, it enables obedience, we become more like who God wants and is helping us to be.
But if we allow our pride to rear its head. If we act like a brutish beast or a senseless animal, and reject that knowledge, reject that feedback, we are exactly like that horse or mule without understanding. And what God is declaring here is that if we do that, if we reject a reproving or correcting word from someone, we are, indeed, stupid.
And I’m not going to tell him he doesn’t have the right to say that.
It’s a hard thing to hear that there are things in my life I’m doing poorly, or that I’ve committed a wrong, or engaged in sin. I am so quick to be defensive and argue my case. Help me to love knowledge. Help me to graciously receive reproof and correction. Father, please fill me with the power of the Spirit so that I might defeat the flesh, which is at war against my soul.
Yes, and very amen, in Jesus’ name.
Pursuing the wise and good life with you,
P.S. If you’d like to study some of the wisdom literature further, I highly recommend the Wisdom Series from The Bible Project, and their resources on the book of Proverbs.
Proverbs Thirty-One Day Reading Plan
August 14: Proverbs ch. 1
Aug. 15: ch. 2
Aug. 16: ch. 3
Aug. 17: ch. 4
Aug. 18: ch. 5
Aug. 19: Grace Day
Aug. 20: ch. 6
Aug. 21: ch. 7
Aug. 22: ch. 8
Aug. 23: ch. 9
Aug. 24: ch. 10
Aug. 25: ch. 11
Aug. 26: Grace Day
Aug. 27: ch. 12
Aug. 28: ch. 13
Aug. 29: ch. 14
Aug. 30: ch. 15
Aug. 31: ch. 16
Sept. 1: ch. 17
Sept. 2: Grace Day
Sept. 3: ch. 18
Sept. 4: ch. 19
Sept. 5: ch. 20
Sept. 6: ch. 21
Sept. 7: ch. 22
Sept. 8: ch. 23
Sept. 9: Grace Day
Sept. 10: ch. 24
Sept. 11: ch. 25
Sept. 12: ch. 26
Sept. 13: ch. 27
Sept. 14: ch. 28
Sept. 15: ch. 29
Sept. 16: Grace Day
Sept. 17: ch. 30
Sept. 18: ch. 31
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