The ear that listens to life-giving reproof
will dwell among the wise.
Here is the key to wisdom – simple as most deep truths are. One grows in wisdom as one is able to listen well and heed correction. All scientists know that the road to knowledge is paved with mistakes and then learning from those mistakes. So it is with wisdom. We are all born sinful; all born ignorant; what distinguishes the person who grows in wisdom from the one who grows in folly is this disposition to hearing and valuing reproof.
Most people would agree with the assessment, but, nevertheless, still fail to listen. Here are some reasons why we will not listen.
1. We choose what we will hear. Sin and pride keep us from hearing. We will listen to reproof about some sin, but refuse to consider what are our deepest sins and blindspots because of pride and desire to cling to particular sins.
2. We choose whom we will accept reproof from. Some of the best reproof comes from our enemies who are not reluctant to point out our faults. But we refuse to listen, knowing they do not seek our good. Some good reproof come from fools, who occasionally may be on the mark. A wise person knows how to sift the wheat from the chaff and thus benefit from the fool. But our real sin comes in refusing to listen to certain people out of pride – the husband who will not listen to his wife because he is suppose to be the head; the teacher who will not listen to her students because she should know best; the “expert” who will not listen to his critics because “what do they know?”
Of course, the greatest life-giving reproof is the giving of the gospel to those who are perishing. Ironically, God has chosen the weak and the foolish to be his messengers of the most profound truth. He has chosen us. We who are so poor at times to hear good reproof are called upon to deliver life-giving reproof to our neighbors. Let us be mindful as we deliver what is reproof to the world – calling them to confess their sin – that we are no different from they. We also would reject what we hear except for the grace of God to open our ears and hearts to the truth. Pray that God would open the ears of our neighbors and continue to open our ears to receive the ongoing, life-giving reproof for ourselves.
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Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By D. Marion Clark. © 2022 Tenth Presbyterian Church. Website: tenth.org