Considering Proverbs 12:1

Whoso loveth instruction loveth knowledge: but he that hateth reproof is brutish (Proverbs 12:1).

The meaning of Proverbs 12:1 is straightforward. A person that welcomes instruction gains knowledge, and this is a good thing. However, a person that hates reproof—or correction—behaves in a brutish manner when that instruction is given.

When considering this proverb, there are three things that I want to think about. First, is something that Jesus teaches about rebuking a difficult person. Next, is how we as Christians should handle rebuke ourselves, and thirdly, the power given to us to rebuke our Adversary—the brute of all brutes—in the Name of Jesus.

As for the first, we might think of something that Jesus said: “Don’t cast your peals before swine, lest they turn again and rend you.” Sometimes, our instruction and correction are not wanted, and the person we attempt to reach becomes angry, or slanders us, or worst yet, violent.

It helps if we deliver the correction carefully, with attempts to persuade rather than condemn. However, even a “rebuke in the spirit of meekness” can be despised. It is an act of love to correct someone, and to “not suffer sin upon them.” This can be challenging because we don’t want people upset with us. However, we should love them enough to deal with the discomfort and possibility of upset, especially if the matter is serious. We don’t want the blood of others on our hands because we were too afraid to confront them. If we are hated, then remember what Jesus said: “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’s sake.”

We should also be careful about using the above saying of Jesus as an excuse for avoiding difficult discussions. If we are mindful and seeking the Lord, He will lead us. Sometimes we speak up. Sometimes we wait for a better opportunity. Sometimes we say nothing. But in all things, care for the person should be our motivation, rather than getting carried away with our own pride, fear, and other ungodly motivations and emotions.

As for the second, we Christians should be willing and ready to receive rebuke. I know that not all Christians believe this way, but I have heard it taught on multiple occasions that any feeling or thought of guilt that a Christian has about current sins that they commit is an attack from Satan himself. They are told that because they are forgiven, they should never feel concern about their sin, and they should rebuke Satan—which in reality, could be a rebuke of they Holy Spirit of God. God forbid.

We should never characterize sincere conviction over our sins as Satanic persecution. “God chastens every son that He loves,” and Jesus says that He “stands at the door and knocks, and if any man will hear, He will come into them and sup with them.” We should tune our ears toward hearing the correction of the Holy Spirit, not reject Him.

It is true that the Adversary can use our sins to tempt and accuse us. He can tempt us to feel so ashamed and condemned that we doubt Jesus’s love for us and the awesome power of His mercy toward us. We can rest on the grace of God and the faith given to us, knowing that nothing can separate us from Him.

The Adversary can also tempt us to run from God. We might be tempted to use the forgiveness received as an excuse to refuse the correction of the Lord, or we might be tempted to justify our sins.

We should not be brutish, but rather happy that God cares enough to correct us. It does not feel good at first, but in the end, this is one of the most loving things that He does. He does not leave us blind to destruction, but lights the way toward true repentance, mercy, and power to overcome in His Name.

As for the third point, through the power of the Name of Jesus, we can “resist the devil, and he will flee” from us. That is an incredible thing. The brute of all brutes must submit himself to the authority of the Son of God. When we feel tempted to sin, we can turn the tables on our Adversary by telling him to leave and invoking the teachings of Jesus Christ.

For example, let’s say that we tend to resent, accuse, or be fearful of others because of their sins or false perceptions that we might hold about them (I speak the following from personal experience, so I know this works). We might start to think badly of them, and before long, we feel that they are deserving of our hatred, begin to wish evil upon them, or become afraid or mistrusting. Are these our thoughts, or is the Accuser using this weakness that we have to do what he does so well: causing division and conflict or destroying our peace?

What if we turned the tables on him, rebuking those thoughts and instead defending the person? The Accuser tempted them to sin, and maybe they did sin, then he accuses them to us. What if we rebuked Satan for tempting them, leading them to destruction, then daring to tempt us also? What if we stated some good thing about them, or found some other way to change the accusations through mercy, compassion, forgiveness, and faith in Jesus’s Name? He will have no choice but to leave us alone.

Let’s not forget, the Accuser does the same to us. He tempts us, and when we sin, he accuses us before God. He is and will be defeated by the Lamb of God, and having received this assurance, we should be on-guard against ways in which the Accuser tempts us to falsely fear, judge, or condemn others—even if it seems just.

We can resist all temptations if we are careful to watch for the enemy, who is “as a roaring lion, seeking who he may devour.” We should be on guard, knowing that all weaknesses we have can be used by our Enemy. God allows this so that we can learn to resist, and this also forces us to face our weaknesses. This is another reason why it is good for us to be ready and willing to accept the correction of the Holy Spirit when it comes. The stronger we are and the less sin we have to contend with, the less room Satan has to get a foothold over us.

In addition to receiving rebuke directly from the Lord, we should also receive correction from others who are also following Jesus. We have a duty to help one another grow in the things of God, so we should both be willing to correct and to receive correction. Correction equips us against the Adversary and makes us stronger in Christ so that we can serve Him and not Satan—the Accuser, Slanderer, and Adversary of mankind.

If we are not sure about whether the correction given should be accepted, then we can take it to the Lord Himself. If we are seeking Him in honesty and humility, then He will always lead us in the truth. “Thy word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”

He will also teach us how to tell the difference between the voice of the Accuser and the convictions of the Holy Spirit. Satan mimics Christ in many ways, but through faith in Him we can grow in the gift of discernment and better hear our Lord and resist the Enemy. Let’s not resist the Holy Ghost, as some resisted, and were further hardened. Let’s learn how and when to give correction, and how to receive it, and we will grow in good knowledge of what it means to be the children of God.

This article is part of a bible study series, Considering the Proverbs. The purpose is to consider present-day events from a Christian perspective and to offer practical lessons that we can apply to ourselves as followers of Jesus Christ.

Jesus is always speaking to us, and if we ask for “ears to hear,” then we will have them. Sometimes we don’t want to hear, but hearing is good for us, especially if we are not only hearers of the Word, but doers of the Word. If you want to hear a Christian’s take on what Jesus is speaking by His Spirit to His church, read the free online book, “These Things Saith He.” As with all things, take it up with the Lord yourself, and see what He might say to you personally.

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