“At the end of your life you groan, when your flesh and body are consumed, and you say, ‘How I hated discipline, and my heart despised reproof! I did not listen to the voice of my teachers or incline my ear to my instructors. I am at the brink of utter ruin in the assembled congregation.’” (Proverbs 5:11-14)
Let’s all first agree that the context of the above passage is that of sexual immorality. Isn’t it ironic that Solomon (probably the author) wrote a passage warning other men about the dangers of sexual sin when he had seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines who turned his heart from the Lord (1 Kings 11:3-4)? I can only wonder if Solomon felt or expected to feel, at the end of his life that he was in complete ruin within God’s congregation, the nation of Israel. In 2018, the world scoffs at this biblical wisdom supporting the view that sexual immorality is acceptable with whomever one desires, of any sex, under any circumstances—and sees its consequences as limited to pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, and relational conflicts with those of us who think differently.
The biblical worldview, however, sees other additional consequences including regret, embarrassment, guilt, shame, being on the verge of collapse with public humiliation. Many Christians have experienced these devastating costs, having lived immorally before being rescued by God through faith in Jesus Christ. But some Christians who were sexually active were spared these consequences by God’s mercy, not having received what was due for their illicit sexual encounters. I genuinely hope that these believers appreciate God’s pity and clemency since heterosexual marriage is the only biblical relationship for sexual intimacy. We have all earned condemnation but are forgiven in Christ and justified—delivered from our guilty sentence—to live at peace with God by his power and grace alone.
Since this is a devotion on wisdom (not on marriage and sins relating to marriage), let me propose a broader application—that the gospel should be our standard for reproof and correction for all sorts of folly. In the notes for this passage, the Reformation Study Bible states that “sexual immorality epitomizes the way of folly that rejects the discipline of wise instruction.” Having admitted that we deserve punishment for our sinful desires, attitudes, thoughts, and behaviors, we ought to accept admonishments from God (through the Bible and prayer), teachers, elders, mentors, brothers, and sisters in Christ. Scoffers reject warnings, instruction, correction, and discipline only to regret it later, like a child who refuses his parents warning just to end up in trouble. Those who scoff run the risk of becoming habitual in their refusal to yield to wisdom and wind up being utterly miserable. It’s one thing to be known to other scoffers as an infidel, but a wholly different matter to be known as a scoffer in the church or among those we respect. Unfortunately, those who try to correct scoffers are abused or may find themselves injured or hated (Proverbs 9:7-8). At the end of life, when it is too late, the words of those who loved them will haunt them.
Will you pray with me for God’s help to recognize our scoffing and repent? Will you join me is learning how to offer winsome correction to scoffers, employing the gospel to bring our brothers and sisters to the feet of Christ?