Reading: Proverb 9
What sets apart a wise person from a foolish person? This book points us to the central distinction many times, and again in this proverb:
Proverbs 9:10 (ESV) — 10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.
The foundational basis of wisdom is the humbling of the self before the holiness and greatness of God. And, if I am humble, then I am ready to be taught.
I am reminded again and again that wisdom is not the same thing as knowledge. The world and the church contain many knowledgeable fools. There is a tendency in us that as knowledge increases, teachableness decreases. We confuse knowledge with wisdom. In reality, knowledge only becomes wisdom through self-application; then self-application leads to humility; and humility to one’s willingness to be teachable.
Proverbs 9:7 (ESV) — 7 Whoever corrects a scoffer gets himself abuse, and he who reproves a wicked man incurs injury.
We can likely all identify some encounter we’ve had where we tried to offer counsel and received abuse in response. The question to ponder today is if someone else is reading this and thinking of an encounter with us? How do you respond to correction? Are you defensive? Are you quick to want to turn the tables and offer a little correction of your own? Do you grumble to yourself and anyone else who will listen? Do you excoriate the one who offers correction?
Proverbs 9:8–9 (ESV) — 8 Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you; reprove a wise man, and he will love you. 9 Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning.
No one likes to hear correction in the moment it is offered. It can be painful and embarrassing. It can show us uncomfortable, true things about ourselves that we hadn’t seen before. But it is our second thought that demonstrates either wisdom or foolishness. A wise person will reflect on the correction, identify if it is true and helpful, and then be thankful for it. A wise person has their eyes on the Lord and their heart set on righteousness, and is humble enough to see that they are not yet where they want to be. Wisdom is not a head issue but a heart issue. Wisdom is not a destination, but a path.
If God can speak through Balaam’s donkey (Numbers 22), He can certainly speak through the person offering you correction. Let’s not be too proud and unteachable to hear it.