For this week’s going deeper I want to extract 4 verses in chapter 12 that seem to be a major point of emphasis for Solomon. I pray that this counsel serves you as well as it has served me over the years. I can say that I am truly a more mature and obedient Christian as a result of making it a practice to seek Godly discipline and counsel. Even though I have sought to love discipline and seek reproof, I still struggle to love and embrace it as often as I should. May we all heed God’s ordained instruction and be doers of these truths and not just hearers. As you read this devotion today, ask yourself how you are at regularly doing these things? Consider what is holding you back and how you might make them a more regular practice.
Proverbs 12:1 Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.
To reject discipline is to reject growth. This is why Solomon calls it stupid to hate reproof. The problem is our flesh and sinful ego do not like to be corrected. This is a spiritual battle of “the ego of the flesh” and “the fruit of the spirit”. It is only the humility of the Lord that gives us a true desire of the heart to LOVE discipline. To be disciplined is to be corrected or to be reproofed. When we long to honor God, we want to grow from where we are. We want to mature in life and faith and so we learn to embrace reproof and discipline. The first step is to set down your pride. You will not lean in to others or God’s word for the reproof or discipline they bring if you are walking in pride. Your pride will always tell you that you don’t need their counsel or insight and you surely don’t need their reproof. If we can get past our pride, then the key is embracing the discipline as a good and helpful work even though it might be hard and challenging. The Lord uses perseverance and discipline to refine us and mold us and mature us to be more Christ-like. To reject discipline and hare reproof is to miss out on what God has commanded us and saved us to do and be. I love this old story that I feel illustrates this point well.
A man found a cocoon of an emperor moth and took it home so he could watch the moth come out of the cocoon. One day a small opening appeared. The man sat and watched the moth for several hours as it struggled to force its body through that little hole. Then it seemed to stop making any progress. To the man, it appeared as if the moth had gotten as far as it could in breaking out of the cocoon and was stuck. Out of kindness the man decided to help the moth. He took a pair of scissors and snipped off the remaining bit of the cocoon so that the moth could get out. Soon the moth emerged, but it had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings. The man continued to watch the moth, expecting that in time the wings would enlarge and expand to be able to support the body, which would simultaneously contract to its proper size. Neither happened. In fact, that little moth spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings. It was never able to fly. The man in his kindness and haste didn’t understand that the restricting cocoon and the struggle required for the moth to get through the tiny opening were God’s way of forcing fluid from the body into the wings so that the moth would be ready for flight once it achieved its freedom from the cocoon.
I pray that you do not reject the counsel or reproof or discipline of a mature brother or sister in Christ or a parent or coach or even a boss, but embrace it and put it to work as a way of growing and maturing. Or as Solomon would say, don’t be stupid and reject helpful reproof!
Proverbs 12:5-6 The thoughts of the righteous are just; the counsels of the wicked are deceitful. The words of the wicked lie in wait for blood, but the mouth of the upright delivers them.
In verse 5 & 6 of proverbs 12, we hear Solomon take this counsel to another level. It causes us to consider who we are receiving our counsel from. Counsel from people in the world is often lacking or even deceitful as Solomon puts it. He goes on to say that the counsel of the wicked wait in blood, meaning that they are self-serving and only look to use you for what they can gain and then leave you for dead or on the side of the road. Instead, the counsel and words of the righteous and upright lead to being delivered. Often our flesh loves to seek counsel from people we know will tell us what we want to hear or we seek counsel from people we really want to like us. The problem is counsel that is what you want to hear is not really counsel. It is just serving your flesh to have what it wants. Seeking counsel from people we want to like us will often leave us being used up and set aside.
Sin is selfish and people who don’t have Christ will give counsel in self-serving sin. We are desperate to seek out mature brothers and sisters and God’s holy word for our counsel. The hope here is that they point us to Christ and honoring God. That they will not serve the flesh, but serve God. In giving us words of wisdom or counsel, we hope they will help to direct our path to honoring God and making the most of the days he gives us under the sun.
Solomon emphasizes this one more time in this twelfth proverb in verse 15…
Proverbs 12:15 The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be a fool. I want to be wise. I long to fight my sin to have it my way and to seek good Godly counsel as often as I can. I pray you too seek to slay your pride and seek good counsel and reproof as a regular practice of your Christian life. May we seek to honor God and not appease the flesh. May God use this discipline in us to make much of Christ and the most of our days.