Growing up, the word “stupid” was almost considered a swear word in our house. If my brother or sister called me stupid, I was beyond offended. My parents desired to raise their children to honor the Lord and show love and kindness to others. In their mission to teach us to love each other and speak words that build up, we were banned from speaking certain unkind words, such as “stupid.” While I think I am less sensitive now than I was as a child, I still don’t want to be known as stupid. I especially don’t want God’s Word to declare that I am stupid. Consider with me how Proverbs 12:1 gives us great wisdom on how to not be stupid.
Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.
This verse makes is simple and clear: hating reproof is stupid. If we want to not be stupid, we need to think through and apply this verse and learn to repent of hating reproof.
Reproof can mean instruction, but especially refers to correction. Reproof is only necessary when a fault needs to be corrected. The fault could be a blatant sin issue that needs to be addressed, or it could be something that shows a lack of understanding that needs correction and wise teaching.
What is in My Heart?
Why might we hate reproof? A reproof comes to point out a sin or a mistake and to offer the godly alternative to the wrong that was done. When someone gives us reproof, they are saying we have made some sort of mistake, maybe we have even sinned, and we need to change. We could hate their reproof because we do not want to admit having any flaws. We could hate their reproof because we take it as an indication that the one reproving us does not approve of us, and their approval is extremely important to us. We could hate their reproof because we see their own shortcomings and want them to focus on that, not on any of our own weaknesses. We could hate reproof because we love our own way and thus hate anyone asking us to submit to another’s instruction. We could hate reproof because we love what is easy and we hate the idea of putting in the hard work to change in response to the reproof.
There is some level of pride or idolatry in our hearts that is mixed in to all of the possible reasons why we might hate reproof. Pride shows up when we want to be exalted as right or wise and do not want to be corrected as sinful or mistaken. We live by pride when we refuse to humbly consider our own failings and instead insist that others’ faults deserve greater attention than our own. Pride is in our hearts when we think we should not have to change our ways or submit to anyone else. We indulge our pride when we think we deserve ease and praise.
Idolatry appears when we worship the approval of man over worshiping God. When we worship God truly, we will not hate anything that reveals our sin, because we want to grow in holiness to God’s glory. When we worship our own glory and the praise of man, we hate reproof as a sign that we are not being properly worshiped by others. Instead of worshiping God alone, we worship at the altar of ease and comfort when we hate reproof because it comes with the expectation of repentance, change and growth.
Don’t Miss the Opportunity
When we find ourselves bristling at correction, take the opportunity to examine what is in your heart. Why are you upset by this reproof? Where is pride or idolatry rearing its ugly head? What is your anger or justification or blame shifting communicating about who you are worshiping? Ask the Lord to show you why this correction is so irritating to you. How can you cultivate humility and a sincere love for God, so that you are able to accept the reproof rather than hate it? Even if the reproof seems harsh or mostly unwarranted, it is still an opportunity to choose humility and examine yourself for any ways you may need to change. Don’t miss the opportunities admonition brings first to learn from the actual reproof, but secondly to counsel your heart towards humility as you grow in receiving reproof.
We’ve looked at “put off” hating reproof, but in my next blog we’ll look at the “put on” of loving discipline.