“The ear that listens to life-giving reproof will dwell among the wise. Whoever ignores instruction despises himself, but he who listens to reproof gains intelligence. The fear of the Lord is instruction in wisdom, and humility comes before honor… The hearing ear and the seeing eye, the Lord has made them both.” (Proverbs 15:31-33; 20:12)
What kind of day did you have yesterday? Did you go through the day reasonably confident of yourself in your tasks, work, or relationships? Or was yesterday one of those days when you realized that you might have been wrong about something or someone after being very sure that you were right? Were you humbled in a particular way or with someone, having your confidence in your perspective or opinion shaken? Jesus instructed his disciples that “Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 14:11). It takes humility to listen to the instruction, advise, and opinions of others, not to mention their reproofs.
Our devotions on words thus far have concentrated on the significance and power of God’s Word and the impact that our words have on others. Today let’s look at our readiness and ability to hear the words of others who seek to help us with instruction and reproof. Proverbs 20:12 is a reminder that God, our Creator, has given us our ears to hear. The verse implies the admonition to use our ears productively for the purpose they were intended. John Gill finds here that those who do see God in his works and hear with spiritual ears biblical wisdom find wisdom, mercies, and blessings. The hearing ear is obedient and subject to those in authority, especially the ministers in the church who instruct us in the Bible. * We hear by God’s power and wisdom when he opens our ears and, by his irresistible grace gives us the desire to love the truth of the gospel and all attendant doctrines.
Proverbs 15 contrasts the one who ignores instruction as hating himself with the one who listens to reproof and gains intelligence. The equation should shake us up—ignoring instruction=hating myself, not caring about myself enough to change, grow and mature. We unfortunately get to a certain point in our lives when we decide we’ve evolved enough, and this is just the way we’re going to be from now on? This attitude is anti-biblical, ungodly, and slothful—yes, lazy. We are to use our ears, no matter how old they are, to hear instruction and reproof, from others, from the Bible, and from our conscience. One way that we show the fear of the Lord is by respecting him as our Creator to use all means possible to grow. Imagine moving to a foreign country, having to learn a foreign language, observe and practice new customs, get used to new foods, and humbly accept the fact that you don’t know more than you do know about your new community. This is how we are to live every day, as aliens on this earth, knowing that our real home is in heaven.
Will you humble yourself today to hear instruction and reproof to grow in wisdom?