To love instruction: Proverbs 12

It’s a good thing this chapter begins as it does, as the first verse sets the tone for the whole chapter. Whoso loveth instruction loveth knowledge: but he that hateth reproof is brutish (verse 1).

Do you like to be told what to do?

I don’t.

During this whole pandemic, the powers that be tell us not to leave our houses and not to do this or that. If we go this place, we must wear a mask. We must social distance. In order to open our church, we needed to check all the boxes—which we did, by the way.

Did I enjoy not being able to leave home for more than eight weeks? No.

But, this Proverb tells us we can choose between liking instruction and knowledge—which is wise—and hating reproof (correction) and being a brute.

What is this instruction we’re supposed to enjoy? Godly instruction.

Do we bristle when God tells us what to do? If so, we might want to discontinue reading this chapter, because, trust me, it is full of instruction.

Do we hate being told we’re wrong? Yes. But, this is God’s discipline, not just anybody’s criticism.

Should we care what God thinks? Of course.

Verses 2 and 3 present a good man. He has God’s favor and is rooted in righteousness. Sounds like Psalm 1 to me: And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper (Psalm 1:3).

For the Christian, rooting and grounding looks like this: That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God (Ephesians 3:17-19). See how this instruction and knowledge bear themselves out in manifestations of God’s love?

Verses 2 and 3 also address the bad man—wicked—who suffers from his own devices.

Verse 4 turns to women. A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband. What an image! You can just see the guy, his head held high. He has a wife who loves him, believes in him, helps him, and makes sure he succeeds. She’s his crown. Gold, perhaps? For sure, she’s precious and valuable. She makes him proud.

The bad wifeshe that maketh ashamedis as rottenness in his bones. The Greek word for “rottenness” means riddled with termite holes. This guy is literally weakened and ruined by his wife. Sad, indeed!

Wives, would you rather be a gleaming crown or a termite? You choose.

In verses 5 through 9, we see the contrasts between the thoughts and actions of righteous people—those who care what God thinks—and wicked persons.

Righteous people have: good thoughts, safe words, secure homes, wise thoughts, and commendation.

The wicked deceive, murder, and are defeated and despised.

Verse 10 reveals a person’s heart. In general, a cruel person is cruel to animals. A good person is kind to animals. My husband and I felt it was important to teach our children to be kind—to animals, even insects—and not to tease and torture them. A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast.    

From verse 11 to the end of the chapter, we have the principle of sowing and reaping in two ways: speech and work ethic.

He who speaks truth, uplifts, puts in a good word, etc. will be known as a good person. Truth will ultimately prevail. This goes for women, as well. She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness (Proverbs 31:26).

The person who works honestly will have his needs met. Verse 11 says, He that tilleth his land shall be satisfied with bread.

On the flipside, the foolish, wicked, evil person thinks up mischief, is covered with shame, has nasty and untruthful words to say, and is snared by his own plans. He doesn’t do honest work, and therefore he either has ill-gotten gain or suffers great need.

The lesson for women, of course, is the same as for men, and it’s echoed in Proverbs 31, about the Virtuous Woman. After extolling the things she does with her hands, the way she provides for her household, etc., the passage concludes with this verse, Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates (verse 31).

Let’s sow kindness, truth, and good, hard work.

May the Lord bless you.

Naming … and shaming

A crowd walks through the streets with placards proclaiming “Black Lives Matter.” Watch what happens when someone says, “White Lives Matter” or “Blue Lives Matter” or “All Lives Matter.” Chants of racist fill the air.

Can’t everyone matter?

Parades and special weeks proclaim “Gay Pride” or just “Pride”—to represent all LGBTQ people. Google features a drag queen. Anyone who posts “Straight Pride” or “I am for traditional marriage” is vilified as a homophobe.

Isn’t it okay to prefer one lifestyle?

Many people wear masks for Covid19. Others don’t, saying masks aren’t effective. Some wear them because they’re required. Other people balk, citing the freedom to make their own choices. Asthmatics may choose not to wear a mask because it restricts oxygen. 

Can’t people choose what they wish to wear or not—unless it’s the law?

A lot of churches closed their doors for the pandemic. Some of them still haven’t opened because of the legal restrictions in their countries or areas. Other churches opened with special social distancing seating, sanitizer, and following health guidelines. Quite a few pastors refused to close the doors of their physical buildings at all, citing religious freedom. There has been much discussion on this matter.

May individual, independent churches decide—unless it’s the law?

We won’t even start about politics!

I believe it’s a sad state of affairs when a person cannot speak his mind without everyone else coming down on him. It is awful that one statement is valued and another parallel statement gets mocked. Why is only one viewpoint acceptable? Is there no room for thinking and expressing ideas?

Doesn’t God’s view matter?

The truth is:

  • God made every single human being—of every hue—in an incredibly purposeful, detailed way. Each was made in the image of God. (Psalm 139:13-16; Genesis 1:27)
  • He created male and female and instituted marriage. (Genesis 1:27; 2:22-24)
  • We are to be considerate of others. (Luke 6:31; Philippians 2:3)
  • The Lord wants us to follow the laws of the land. (Romans 13:1-7)
  • God wants us to be kind. (Ephesians 4:32)

Even when we differ, we should be kind. How can Christians hope to win the lost if we’re not nice?

I believe strongly on some of the subjects I mentioned and not so strongly on others. For example, I don’t care who wears a face mask.

But, even if I don’t agree with a person, he or she can still be my friend. I have friends and relatives in every category above, and I respect them as people for whom Jesus died. They are created in the image of God, just as much as I am. I pray for them and care about them.

Jesus said, And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these (March 12:30-31).

Let’s go out and love our neighbors—even when they disagree with us.

May we present our opinions with grace and back them up with biblical truths.

Jesus said, Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:10).

You matter to God. He wants your affection, and He wants you to share that love with others.