Poverty and shame shall be to him that refuseth instruction: but he that regardeth reproof shall be honoured.
Failure or success? Poverty or riches? Shame or honor? Which do you prefer? Of course, you want success, riches, and honor. But it is far easier to desire them than to get them. There is a basic requirement to get them, and the vast majority of men will not meet this condition. They must humble themselves to appreciate reproof and accept instruction.
You are making a decision right now about your future. Some will presume they already know the lesson, so they stop reading and go back to their foolish games. Others will read a little further and stop when the author implies they are likely a fool or scorner. Only a few will be thrilled to see such an offer of honor and devour each word to gain the prize.
Most men are too proud, rebellious, or stubborn to appreciate reproofs or accept instruction. They want to do things their way. They do not like to be told they are wrong. They love their own opinions. Solomon warned over and over that your willingness to be corrected and taught is the key to your future (Pr 1:24-33; 2:1-5; 3:1-2; 5:9-14; 8:7-8,36; 9:7-9; 10:17; 12:1; 13:13; 14:12; 15:5,31-32; 16:25; 18:1-2; 26:12; 28:11).
The lesson is simple. You arrived in life knowing nothing. Your heart and motives are twisted by inherited corruption from your first parents – Adam and Eve. The world is filled with ignorance, superstition, and tradition. You are assaulted daily with profane ideas, enticements, and actions. You will self-destruct in ignorance without serious help.
There is a simple technique for success in a world doomed to failure. Find teachers that have the truth and wisdom of God and submit to their reproofs and instruction. It is that simple. God has revealed the wisdom of heaven to men. If you will find them and accept their correction and teaching, you can deliver yourself from failure, poverty, and shame.
Where are such teachers? Where God’s preserved scriptures are taught! Intelligence or education cannot substitute for the Bible. There is no light or understanding outside the Bible (Is 8:20; I Cor 1:19-20; 3:19-20; I Tim 6:3-5,20-21). If you seek God’s truth with your whole heart, He will send a teacher (Job 33:19-26; Acts 8:26-35; 10:1-6; 18:24-28).
Once you find such a teacher, there is another obstacle in the way of success – your own thoughts, imaginations, and opinions. A man that arrogantly presumes he is right is worse than a fool. He is a scorner, and God will blind and punish that man (Pr 9:7-9; 26:12; Eze 14:1-11). A fool is too lazy and distracted to learn, but a scorner refuses to be taught.
Learning and progress requires change. Either you must correct errors you have learned, or you must add new knowledge to your inventory. The first requires accepting reproofs, and the second requires accepting new ideas through instruction. Pride, rebellion, and stubbornness will not allow a man to do either of these two things. Most men are losers.
A true teacher is an enemy of your thoughts and imaginations (II Cor 10:4-6). He must destroy and pull down the strongholds of your mind, where you hold false ideas and concepts. He must replace them with truth and wisdom, which you have not heard or accepted before. While the relationship is affectionate, the process is definitely conflict.
You were born in a foolish generation. Sharing is the new method of learning. Ignorant students, which were messing on themselves a few days earlier, are asked their opinions on same-sex marriages, capital punishment, origins, and other subjects. Real education does not ask for opinions – it makes God’s absolute truth and wisdom the only opinion!
Today’s churches are no better than today’s schools. Men will no longer endure sound doctrine – teaching designed to convey God’s absolute standards for faith and practice. Instead, they want teachers to entertain them with fables that will please their itching ears – saying things that match up with their carnal and foolish presumptions (II Tim 4:3-4).
What keeps you from listening to your teachers – your parents and pastor? Are you too proud to accept correction? Too stubborn to admit you are wrong? Too rebellious to change by another’s advice? These are marks of a scorner. You are doomed to poverty and shame, unless you repent immediately and humble yourself before God’s word.
Do you sleep in church? Do you resent being taught by a man younger than you? Are you content with tradition from the Roman brothel? Do you attend the fastest-growing church in town to avoid preaching? These are marks of a fool! You are doomed to poverty and shame, unless you repent immediately and humble yourself before God’s word.
Jesus made the lesson very plain as He concluded the Sermon on the Mount. He said that hearing His doctrine and not doing it was like building your life on sand. The storms of time and eternity will wash you away (Matt 7:24-27). But a wise man will hear His sayings and build his life upon a rock. He will stand sure in both time and eternity.
Honor is within your grasp. God introduced true wisdom in the visible creation (Ps 19:1-6; Rom 1:20). He gave the details in the Bible (Deut 29:29; Ps 19:7-11; II Pet 1:19-21). He sent men to preach the hidden wisdom of God (I Cor 2:1-16; I Tim 3:16). Truth is available, if men humble themselves (Is 66:2). If they do not, He will rewire their brains to disgrace themselves with disgusting sexual perversions (Rom 1:21-28). What shame!
Examine yourself in the light of this proverb. If you hear instruction and forget it before applying it to your life, you are a fool. You are heading for certain poverty and shame. If you hear correction and resent it, you are a scorner. You are heading for certain poverty and shame even faster. Wisdom is submitting to reproofs and accepting instruction, for that is the means of learning and growth. God and all good men will honor such a man.