Today brings our weeks study of Proverbs 6-12 to a close. Chapter 12 is a continuation of the antithetical Proverbs and there are some real beauties in here and they range through quite a spectrum of wise and unwise behaviors.
It leads off with a really good set of contrasts: “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but whoever hates correction is stupid.” It doesn’t get much plainer than this: A wise person willingly accepts discipline, but if you hate to be corrected by another you are stupid.
Everybody makes mistakes. I’m a big baseball fan. I’ve always enjoyed playing and watching baseball. The amazing thing about baseball is that the BEST baseball players fail between 60 and 70% of the time. That’s right! The best hitters usually have batting averages around .300, sometimes .350 and very rarely (like Ted Williams was the last one who did it and that was more than 70 years ago) someone will bat .400. But even if you’re the greatest hitter of all time, you still FAIL to hit the ball 6 out of 10 times. What is it that sets great hitters apart from the rest of us? They learn from their mistakes. They study film of their mistakes. And they listen to their coaches who help them to correct what would appear to us to be very minor mistakes. You get to be a great hitter by accepting correction, from learning from your mistakes. That requires a lot of humility.
The same is true in the rest of our lives. We all make mistakes. Often we catch our own mistakes and take steps to correct them. But sometimes we don’t even see our own mistakes. Sometimes someone else sees our mistake and offers a word of correction. A wise person willingly listens to correction and attempts to change their behavior… a foolish person refuses to receive or learn from the correction of others and so they fail to improve their actions.
The whole foundation of the gospel message in the Bible is a openness to correction and a willingness to change. Jesus himself began his ministry by calling people to “repent, and believe the good news.” To repent means to change your direction.
As you read through the Bible, God will use His word to bring to your mind and heart his corrective word. You will see areas where you need to change. You’ll see a passage like “Diligent hands will rule but laziness ends in forced labor.” You might read that passage and realize, deep down, that this is an issue in your life. You might blame other people for some of your problems, you might make excuses for why you do or don’t do certain things, but the fact is, you might actually be lazy. I’m not saying you are lazy because, well, I don’t even know you. You might be a diligent, hard working person and that’s great. But then again, you might be lazy. Your laziness may cause you to procrastinate and put off doing things that you need to do but don’t enjoy. Your laziness may be costing you good grades in school, or a promotion at work. Your laziness may because causing conflict in your marriage as your spouse resents that they have to work harder to make up for your laziness. Your laziness might be keeping you from going to Church on Sundays or serving in a ministry at your Church where you might be very gifted and very helpful. I don’t know if you’re lazy or not, but you need to at least take a hard look and ask yourself “does this Proverb apply to me?” If you’re not sure, ask someone important in your life who really knows you and isn’t afraid to speak truth into your life and ask them “Do you every observe laziness in me?” And if they say, yes, then you might want to consider that you may be lazy and you might want to become more aware of ways that laziness manifests itself in your daily life. And you might begin asking God to help you change, understanding that it won’t happen overnight.
But know this, no positive change can happen in any area of your life until you are ready to receive correction. God’s Word, the Bible is powerful. In one place the Bible refers to itself as a double-edged sword. It’s able to dig deep inside of you. It is able to help you change if you allow it to do it’s work in your life. II Timothy 3:16 says it very well: “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.” (New Living Translation).
Almost exactly a year ago I had surgery to remove cancer from my body. I let a surgeon cut through my skin and muscle to get to where the cancer was and very carefully cut it out. Why? Because I don’t want to die from cancer any sooner than necessary. As I think about it today, I gave that surgeon an awesome responsibility. And to be honest, before the surgery I was afraid. Who is this man with a knife that I’m entrusting with my body, my life? I’m glad I did it, because here I am a year later and I’m still alive and I have a whole lot less cancer in my body then I did then and I’ve got a whole lot better chance of living longer now because I trusted him to perform surgery on my life.
“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of Wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding”. (Proverbs 9:10). I trust my awesome God to use His word to go to work removing all the bad stuff in my life and bringing me to wholeness and salvation. God does this through his word and through Jesus Christ, who was pierced for our transgressions. It takes some cutting and some bleeding to bring us life, and to bring us eternal life. I trust God my awesome God, do you?
~ Jeff Fletcher