Whoever ignores instruction despises himself,
but he who listens to reproof gains intelligence.
This proverb states what every teacher has said sometime to his students, “If you don’t study/if you cheat, you are only hurting yourself.” The fool thinks he is cleverly getting away with something by “outfoxing” the teacher or the system, not realizing that he is only keeping himself ignorant and, indeed, is falling behind others who are gaining knowledge. He also is losing out on sharpening his ability to listen well and to think clearly. In short, he is acting like a person who despises himself, who is keeping himself from advancing.
The second part of the proverb indicates that the instruction includes the concept of addressing error. This is why the fool so despises instruction; he cannot bear the idea of being in the wrong, or, more to the point, of being wrong in the eyes of others. And so again, he loses out to the one who willingly listens to reproof and gains further intelligence.
How well will you listen today? If a student, will you pay attention in class and not begrudge having a “hard” teacher who won’t go easy on you and demand high standards? If a worker, will you pay attention to the instruction, even the reproof, given by a supervisor and not be defensive? As a Christian, will you listen to your minister preaching the Word, to your teachers teaching the Bible? Will you listen to your sister or brother admonishing you with Scripture? Will you listen to the Holy Spirit teaching you through the special revelation of Scripture and through the general revelation of creation and life’s experiences? No lesson and no experience is wasted if you will heed the instruction and reproof of the Holy Spirit.
© 2020 Tenth Presbyterian Church.
Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in its entirety or in unaltered excerpts, as long as you do not charge a fee. For Internet posting, please use only unaltered excerpts (not the content in its entirety) and provide a hyperlink to this page. Any exceptions to the above must be approved by Tenth Presbyterian Church.
Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By D. Marion Clark. © 2020 Tenth Presbyterian Church. Website: tenth.org