The ear that hears the rebukes of life will abide among the wise. He who disdains instruction despises his own soul, but he who heeds rebuke gets understanding. The fear of the Lord is the instruction of wisdom, and before honor is humility. (Proverbs 15:31-33)
It is hard to be told that decisions we make are not the best conclusions. Somewhere deep in our inner conscience there is a sense that we have the answers and yet so often in life we are reminded that is not the case. This is not a haughty or proud attitude but rather a perception that life is defined in the terms we are familiar with due to our experience, wisdom and ability to reason. Having said that, we determine the course of action taken is the best because we deem it so. It does not take long before these decisions are challenged and a rebuke is in order for the path we have chosen. When someone corrects a decision we have made we stand at the crossroads of two dilemmas: accept what they have said and change course or refuse to believe that anyone could have a better decision than us and charge forth regardless of the consequences. The latter is fraught with constant failure. Practical wisdom fills the pages of the Bible and no place is more enlightening than the book of the Proverbs. This is a book for the common man teaching common sense through practical application.
The Lord teaches the gems of wisdom do not come by the self-proclaimed assurance of pride but rather the ability to receive constructive criticism and rebuke. Wisdom is gained from the viewpoint of others. It is hard for man to accept the fact he does not have all the answers. The path a man chooses is never absolute. Left to himself, man destroys his own nature when he believes all knowledge dwells in him. Sin mars the character of man and as the prophet Jeremiah enumerated, man does not know how to walk or to direct his own steps. Man is a fundamentally flawed individual incapable of making all the right decisions. The thing that separates man from God is that God is all-knowing and man is barely-knowing. Rebuke is what builds the character of man to be a wiser creation. The ear that hears the rebukes of life will live a fuller life because he is willing to learn from others. To scorn advice from others makes a fool of himself because the wisdom of others will clarify the path more clearly. Heeding constructive criticism from others will bring deeper understanding. God created man and noted it was not good for him to be alone. At the family level this was proven to be true as man needed woman and she him. Any man who does not listen to the counsel of his wife is a fool and any woman who disregards the wisdom of her husband is a fool. Friends, mentors, colleagues and associates who give advice should be heeded for the community of counsel that is found in the collective wisdom of men.
To have greater understanding is to know one important rule of accepting advice. The source of wisdom will determine the outcome of life and the proverbs are very clear where that knowledge must come. Receiving rebukes in life must not be based solely upon the wisdom of men. The fear of the Lord is where truth comes. All truth that is found in man can only come from the wisdom granted by the Creator to His creation. God formed man in His image and only when men seek the image of God in their lives will they find the answers of life. History is littered with the failed attempts of man to build his tower of Babel’s upon the failed religion of self-wisdom. The first failure in the wisdom of man comes when he rejects God. Seeking the fear of the Lord is where the instruction of wisdom must come and nothing else. From the beginning of time man has always known the will of the Lord but he ignores and rejects the heavenly spirit to fall into the demise of his own foolishness. To be raised up in wisdom begins with a humble heart to accept the reproof of God. Someone said the Bible was written to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable. That is the nature of God’s word that men dislike. The Bible is the mind of God revealed to man and no greater message of wisdom, knowledge, understanding and insight into the nature of man has been given. When the Bible afflicts the soul in rebuking the actions of men, it is rejected for human wisdom. Failure always comes next.
The wise man will receive reproofs and rebuke for the measure it is intended to make a person wiser. Our friends and family can help us in the many decisions of life live productive and prosperous ways as long as we in humility receive the instructions with kindness and grace. Everything must be based upon the principles and truth of God’s word as the final voice in making decisions. Face it: we do not know everything and often we make the lesser of the wisest decisions. Learn from others. Realize that my way is not always the best way and others have a better answer. God gave us two ears to listen twice as much as we speak so we should listen more than speaking. That is great wisdom to hear the rebukes of life and learn. With the fear of the Lord in the heart and the honor of humility in the mind, happiness will always follow.