“He who listens to a life-giving rebuke will be at home among the wise. He who ignores discipline despises himself, but whoever heeds correction gains understanding. The fear of the Lord teaches a man wisdom, and humility comes before honour.”
Proverbs 15:31-33, NIV
There are times in all our lives when we need to hear the truth about ourselves. But frankly none of us like it and the natural instinct of the carnal nature is to rise up to attack the messenger instead of to listen carefully to the message, asking the Lord if there is any truth in what is being said. I can remember several times as a youth rising up on the inside and thinking my father was so wrong in what he was saying. In later life, however, I realised just how right he was at the time and how important his loving correction had been. It saved me from making much more serious mistakes.
In the history of God’s people there were many occasions when the prophets brought unwelcome messages. Instead of listening to what God was saying to the people through God’s prophetic mouthpiece, they often turned on the prophets who had had the courage to tell the people the truth. For example in Isaiah’s day the people turned on him saying, “Don’t give us any more visions of what is right, tell us pleasant things, prophesy illusions” (Isaiah 30:10). This is an extraordinary verse of Scripture. The people knew Isaiah to be a Godly man who listened to the heart of God and always spoke the truth. But when the people didn’t like hearing what he was saying, instead, they asked this Godly man to tell them lies! They did not want to hear the voice of God through Isaiah bringing correction. In pride and arrogance they wanted to live life in their own ungodly way. When someone speaks correction into our lives, let’s be careful not to hastily reject the message.
Our Scripture for today contains a salutary warning about the dangers of ignoring the voice of correction. It also gives us a very interesting slant on the consequences of ignoring discipline. It says that he who ignores discipline despises himself! Discipline may not always be given in the best possible way and it’s rarely a comfortable experience! But when it comes, we need to weigh it carefully, for if we reject the message and choose to ‘shoot’ the messenger instead, we are actually despising ourselves. If you despise someone, you look down on them and don’t give them any respect. And if you despise yourself that is exactly what you are doing. You are looking down on yourself and disrespecting the need there may be in your life to prayerfully consider the message and choose to change. The consequences could be serious, as they so often were for God’s people when they rejected the messages of God’s prophets.
Our Scripture encourages us to listen carefully to the voice of correction, for it is through this that we can gain important understanding – but we will never be willing to walk that path unless first we deal with our pride and choose to humble ourselves. As that wonderful Bible teacher Derek Prince used to say, “the way down is the way up!”
Prayer: Help me, Lord, to listen carefully when You bring correction into my life. Help me to welcome it so that I may gain understanding and more fully walk in Your ways. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.