Correction is grievous unto him that forsaketh the way: and he that hateth reproof shall die.
Do you like to be corrected? You should, because it is a key trait of wise men. You should, because that is how to learn and improve your life. You should, because it could save your life in more ways than one. Only fools, rebels, and scorners resent correction.
Improve the character of your soul. Can you take correction? Can you take it gladly? Do you appreciate reproof? Do you thank the reprovers? Your attitude toward correction and reproof says more about your heart than most measures. It is a prerequisite for honor.
Fools and scorners hate correction and reproof, but both are going to die in their folly. They want to do things their own way. This measure of character and its warnings are repeated themes of Solomon in Proverbs (Pr 9:8; 10:17; 12:1; 13:18; 15:32; 29:1).
You arrived in this world ignorant and depraved. Your heart was dead to God and doing right, and it was alive to rebellion and sin. Your parents corrected your childish antics and prepared you to survive life. They corrected and reproved your youthful folly. If you rebelled against their good advice, then they and a harsh world soon punished you.
Children would do many foolish and dangerous things, if parents did not often correct and reprove them. It is the same for teenagers, though the foolish things and dangers change. To be wise, you learn throughout your life. It takes two things to learn – those willing to correct, reprove, and teach you, and your willingness to accept and obey them.
If God has graciously changed your heart, the only way you can learn the way of righteousness is by correction and reproof. You need teachers to rebuke your folly and direct you to wisdom. God has chosen to do this primarily by parents and preachers. It is by warnings and instruction from the Word of God that you are prepared for success.
Your evil heart does not like to be corrected. You resent being reproved. You do not like to be told you are wrong and need to change. You want to keep your sins. You resent those who examine and condemn your conduct. But these are the means by which you acquire wisdom and are saved from life’s pitfalls. Why do you resent what was ordained for your blessing and salvation? Because your depraved heart sinfully loves its own folly.
Two rules are taught in this proverb. First, if you dislike correction, it proves you have forsaken the way of righteousness and wisdom. A man seeking knowledge and truth does not have such a rebellious spirit. Second, if you hate reproof, you will die. Ignorance will trap you; rebellion will condemn you. Folly and sin will certainly, eventually destroy you.
If you resent correction and reproof and those that bring them in your life, you have chosen a painful and trouble-filled life on your way to death. And on your way down to destruction, God will send you delusion and lies for rejecting the truth He offered (II Thess 2:9-12; Ezek 14:1-11). God expects you to appreciate the teachers He sends you.
It takes love and courage to rightly correct another person. Here is another reason to appreciate teachers in your life. Solomon said, “Open rebuke is better than secret love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful” (Pr 27:5-6). David considered blows from righteous friends to be acts of kindness (Ps 141:5). Those who take the time to correct or reprove you are the ones that truly love you the most.
How do ignorant men learn truth and wisdom? They need correction and instruction. If you resent these means for obtaining wisdom, then you are going to die in your stubborn foolishness. The lies and traps of wicked men will deceive you; various authorities in life will condemn you; and the blessed God of heaven will destroy you. But God has inspired the Bible to be profitable for reproof, correction, and instruction (II Tim 3:16-17).
There is only one true way to live. There is only one true set of beliefs. There is only one true religion. In this proverb it is called “the way.” It is the way of the God of the Bible; it is the way of life, righteousness, truth, and wisdom. Paul’s Christianity was called “that way” in the pagan city of Ephesus (Acts 19:8-10). Until the beliefs and practices of your entire life match up with God’s inspired word, you need to be corrected and reproved.
Examine your heart. Do you love correction and reproof? Do you love the parents and pastors who correct and reprove you? This is the measure of your character and wisdom. If you have a problem with being told you are wrong or resenting those who rebuke you, humble yourself before God and beg for His mercy before it is too late. Death is coming.
Jesus Christ has prepared and appointed men to preach His scriptures to you, and the Bible gives them all they need to be perfect for your learning and progress. It will hurt at times when they criticize your life with the fire and hammer of God’s word, but you should never despise such preaching (Jer 23:28-29; II Cor 10:4-6). You should love it. You need it. Do you have such a church and pastor, or do you prefer a grinning pastor that never offends anyone? Your choice is either approved or condemned by this proverb.