It might be nearly the end of the week, and one might think we’d already gotten past the first verse of the chapter, but Proverbs 12:1 stood out to me this morning, and I’d like to tell you why.
Whoso loveth instruction loveth knowledge: but he that hateth reproof is brutish. – Proverbs 12:1
There are a lot of people who feel like there is no need for preachers, teachers, instructors, professors, or pastors. I read their comments any time I write something having to do with the ministry and ministry needs.
Often, and usually with poor spelling and grammar, the irate and biblically-illiterate employ arrogant language and out-of-context verses to “prove” their point. Consider a brief excerpt I copied from one particular conversation…the write goes by the name of Paradox7:
I don’t need an operator to call my LORD , and I have been reading the Bible since I was a child , don’t need an interpreter either…
Jesus actually spoke of wolves in sheep’s clothing , referring to religious leaders of his time , the same people who set him up for murder because he asurped their authority .If you have read the Bible , you can’t really disagree with that sentiment… It is a common bibical theme to be wary of authority figures , but of course many do not get the message , even as Jesus predicted ” for wide is the gate that leads to destruction , and there are many who will walk thru it .”
There is more to being instructed than simply reading the Bible. Many people do that, just like the Ethiopian Eunuch who asked Phillip in Acts 8:31, “How can I [understand], except some man should guide me?”
Godly teachers are a gift from God to the Church (Ephesians 4:11). Some people need them more than others.
Proverbs chapter eleven is all about integrity.
What does inegrity entail?
Telling the truth and doing what’s right is important. Honesty is life-affirming, acknowledging the image of God in others, and, honestly, keeping life simple. It is easier to keep your story straight when you tell the truth and do what’s right.
Doing what’s right, doing what one ought, is also life-affirming. Sin is most often associated with what we did wrong, but it includes what we don’t do that we should. If we did what was needed when it should be done (right away or when time allows), life would be easier. Owning mistakes is included, as growth comes more quickly. It is irresponsible to shift the blame or hope “someone else will do it.” It is better to do what is right, even if someone else could or should do it.
Giving to others or taking up the burden of another demonstrates generosity. And – you probably guessed it – it is life affirming. It shows love to others. It tells others “You are worth it.” It clears up problems before they even exist or before they are out of control.
Living with Integrity
If you want to live with integrity, live out the concepts of Proverbs. Take five minutes and read the entire chapter and see how integrated and interrelated all of these concepts are.
They represent God’s character, and living with integrity makes your character more like His.
“Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48)
I live in a world where I must respond to others and take orders. I have customers, colleagues, bosses, police, parents, teachers and the list goes on.
“A wise heart takes orders; an empty head will come unglued.” ~~King Solomon (Proverbs 10:8)
I do have options though.
- I can ignore the person and hope they forget. Sometimes they do.
- I can be obstinate.
- I can be defiant.
- I can say yes and then not do it.
- I can fake obedience.
- I can get too busy.
- I can forget.
I can be too clever some days at avoiding the real issue of simple obedience.
It is a matter of the heart. Do I have a heart that respects authority? Am I willing to serve others? Do I have a slave’s heart for what my Master Jesus wants me to do?
If so, I can be wise.
Do I come unglued when someone in authority asks me to do something? King Solomon concludes I have an empty head. As my dad would say, “That is not right bright”.
God’s goal for me for is to obey. It is most important to obey Jesus. Jesus teaches me to pray, “Your will be done!”
Two ladies call out to the world in Proverbs 9: Wisdom and Folly.
The difference is actually striking.
[Wisdom] has sent her young women to call from the highest places
Wisdom sent her followers to the high places, the important places, to call to others.
Did you know the Greek word for “sent” is apestalmena, where we get the word for apostle: one who is sent?
Now look at Folly:
[Folly] takes a seat on the highest places
Folly takes the highest place, the most important place.
What Is the Difference?
When done apostolically, there is humility. Wisdom does not assume superiority (even when true) over other others but serves others.
Folly assumes superiority and appropriates what is neccessary – takes the important places, often by force and/or deception. There may be a false humility that can be attractive to others, but the true motivations tend to be selfish.
“When you are invited by anyone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in the best place, lest one more honorable than you be invited by him; and he who invited you and him come and say to you, ‘Give place to this man,’ and then you begin with shame to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit down in the lowest place, so that when he who invited you comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, go up higher.’ Then you will have glory in the presence of those who sit at the table with you. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Luke 14:8-11, NKJV
If thou be wise, thou shalt be wise for thyself: but if thou scornest, thou alone shalt bear it. -Proverbs 9:12, KJV
I argued with this verse. Wisdom won (naturally):
Me: “What do you mean?! My wisdom could benefit others, and my scorning of wisdom could hurt others!”
Wisdom: “Ah, but what is the deeper meaning of what I am telling you?”
Me: “Am I wrong?”
Wisdom: “No, but do I lead to, as you quoted me as saying before?”
Me: “The fear of the Lord … OH!”
If we listen to Wisdom, we are led to salavific knowledge. We see our need for a Savior, for Jesus the Messiah. We may lead others to Christ, but it is our own soul that is affected. We cannot do that for others.
If we scorn Wisdom, we deny we need the help of the Savior. We may lead others astray, but it is our own soul that is affected.
As I asked yesterday, how do YOU respond to God’s Wisdom? Do you scorn Wisdom or affirm Wisdom? Do you choose eternal life or death?
She hath sent forth her maidens: she crieth upon the highest places of the city, -Proverbs 9:3 KJV
Knowing of Wisdom’s firm foundation in the truth of God and that true wisdom loves others, it is only natural that Wisdom calls others in to enjoy her fruits.
The imagery of sending maidens also tells us that wisdom works with others, brings them alongside to enjoy the pleasant work of loving God and others.
I am immediately reminded of the parable of the Great Banquet in Luke chapter 14. When a man had a banquet, all of his guests gave excuses for why they could not make it, so he sent his servants to tell any who would come to enjoy the feast.
Let this remind us that the ultimate wisdom points to Christ, and ultimately it is wise and loving to share Christ with all who will listen.
For all will be present in some form at the marriage supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19), whether as the invited guests or those who are slain and feasted upon by the birds of the air.
Those of us who respond to Wisdom’s call feast on the fruit of righteousness, while those who reject the call are ultimately made the feast.