How do you feel when someone corrects you? Most of us do not cheerfully thank them. Instead, our natural tendency is to become defensive and try to deny we did wrong… even to ourselves we rationalize why we were right to do what we did. However, take care… that is not the path to wisdom but rather leads us to remain in our folly.
Proverbs 15:31 He whose ear listens to the life-giving reproof will dwell among the wise.
God provided wisdom to Solomon beyond that of anyone else and led Solomon to record much that can help us even today, if we are willing to listen carefully to this life-giving reproof and let it guide us to change our behaviors where we need to. So to it can be affirming and encouraging for those areas where we are living according to God’s word. As we read Proverbs 15, let us consider the wisdom as coming directly from God and applying to our lives today as much as it did to Solomon in his time. Human nature has not changed in all that time, despite advances in technology. Prayerfully consider Solomon’s wisdom.
1A gentle answer turns away wrath,
But a harsh word stirs up anger.
2The tongue of the wise makes knowledge acceptable,
But the mouth of fools spouts folly.
3The eyes of the LORD are in every place,
Watching the evil and the good.
4A soothing tongue is a tree of life,
But perversion in it crushes the spirit.
5A fool rejects his father’s discipline,
But he who regards reproof is sensible.
6Great wealth is in the house of the righteous,
But trouble is in the income of the wicked.
7The lips of the wise spread knowledge,
But the hearts of fools are not so.
8The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD,
But the prayer of the upright is His delight.
9The way of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD,
But He loves one who pursues righteousness.
10Grievous punishment is for him who forsakes the way;
He who hates reproof will die.
11Sheol and Abaddon lie open before the LORD,
How much more the hearts of men!
12A scoffer does not love one who reproves him,
He will not go to the wise.
13A joyful heart makes a cheerful face,
But when the heart is sad, the spirit is broken.
14The mind of the intelligent seeks knowledge,
But the mouth of fools feeds on folly.
15All the days of the afflicted are bad,
But a cheerful heart has a continual feast.
16Better is a little with the fear of the LORD
Than great treasure and turmoil with it.
17Better is a dish of vegetables where love is
Than a fattened ox served with hatred.
18A hot-tempered man stirs up strife,
But the slow to anger calms a dispute.
19The way of the lazy is as a hedge of thorns,
But the path of the upright is a highway.
20A wise son makes a father glad,
But a foolish man despises his mother.
21Folly is joy to him who lacks sense,
But a man of understanding walks straight.
22Without consultation, plans are frustrated,
But with many counselors they succeed.
23A man has joy in an apt answer,
And how delightful is a timely word!
24The path of life leads upward for the wise
That he may keep away from Sheol below.
25The LORD will tear down the house of the proud,
But He will establish the boundary of the widow.
26Evil plans are an abomination to the LORD,
But pleasant words are pure.
27He who profits illicitly troubles his own house,
But he who hates bribes will live.
28The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer,
But the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things.
29The LORD is far from the wicked,
But He hears the prayer of the righteous.
30Bright eyes gladden the heart;
Good news puts fat on the bones.
31He whose ear listens to the life-giving reproof
Will dwell among the wise.
32He who neglects discipline despises himself,
But he who listens to reproof acquires understanding.
33The fear of the LORD is the instruction for wisdom,
And before honor comes humility.
I encourage you to prayerfully re-read this list a few times. Mark a few that seem to apply to you, both affirming things you do well as well as things that point you to changing your behavior and attitude. Then write them down and apply them in your life over the next week or so. Come back and revisit in a few weeks to see how you are doing.
For me, the first part of verse 28 resonates…
28The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things.
I often respond quickly without taking time to ponder how to answer in a way that may be most gratifying and honoring to God and the person with whom I am speaking. I have grown much in the last decade and a half with God and do not struggle as much with saying wicked things, but I want to do more than avoid wicked responses. I want to edify the Lord and honor Him and others with my words. I want to choose them more carefully because words bring the power to build up or to destroy.
I also gather encouragement from reminding myself how much God has changed me such that I accept His reproof through His word and embrace more and more living the way His word commands… even if it requires me to be set apart from others and their worldly behaviors or compromises in their faith. It was hard when I started down this path as I would try to rationalize my behavior rather than change it. I would compare myself to others rather than to God’s word. Glory to God I have come a long way thanks to His help in the Holy Spirit living inside me and guiding me… convicting me of my errors and need to change. But I must not let down my guard as our internal nature is to rationalize why whatever we do was right to do… even when it is not.
What do you need to work on? In what areas can you thank God for helping you get on the right path? Truly making progress is made possible with humility and prayer and made easier with an accountability partner… someone you can trust to help you identify the good and the “needs improvement” areas of your life!
Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? If you die today, do you know for sure that you would be with God in heaven? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.