He that refuseth instruction despiseth his own soul: but he that heareth reproof getteth understanding.
Here again is the most common rule of Proverbs. A wise man will gladly hear instruction and submissively take reproof, but a foolish and wicked man will resist them both. The wise man will gain understanding by receiving correction, but the wicked man who refuses admonition hates his own soul, for he is guaranteeing his eventual ruin.
Resistance to instruction and correction marks a person as a fool. In fact, this is the surest measure of a man – how well does he listen to reproofs, how eager is he to be taught, and how thankful is he to the man that reproves him. A fool does not like to be corrected, and a scorner hates it; a fool does not appreciate a reprover, and a scorner despises him.
Every person arrives in life knowing nothing. The only way he can learn anything is to listen to those who were born before him and who have wisdom from the Word of God and/or experience. Parents, even weak ones, have greater intelligence and experience than their children, so wise children will hear their reproofs. When God sends a wise man to you in the course of life, love that man, submit to his correction, and learn from him.
Noble men in God’s sight are those with ready minds for receiving the instruction of God’s Word (Acts 17:11). They listen well with eager anticipation of learning from the man of God. They do not consider any man infallible, so they search the Scriptures to verify what they hear, but they do this with a receptive mind, not a belligerent one.
It is very easy to identify a bold fool. You can hardly get a word in, because they want to be talking. For every suggestion, correction, or warning you give, they have a “but.” They will look away, look down on you, or otherwise show their disrespect. While you are talking, you can see their simple mind bubbling up the next things they want to say.
It is also easy to spot a reserved fool. They stare blankly at you, and possibly nod in agreement from time to time, and they may even be polite as if they heard and agreed. But they will not humble themselves to say you are right and they are wrong. All you have to do is watch their lives, for there will be no change, no repentance, and no zealous reformation. They prefer passive rebellion and despise correction as much as a bold fool.
Understanding requires a great increase in knowledge and discretion, which can only come by folly and error being reproved. No one likes to be corrected, because men are proud and arrogant by their sinful nature from Adam. But the wise man, the man born of God, will put this nature down and humble himself before any who come to instruct him.
How do men refuse instruction? They avoid churches with real pastors; they block out any teaching that steps on their toes; they think of reasons to excuse their sinful behavior; they try to talk over the person correcting them; they try to get rid of the man who stands for anything; they apply the words to someone worse than themselves; they look for a fault in the teacher to avoid the force of his words; they accuse him of false motives.
Today is the first day of the rest of your life. Be on the lookout for every attempt by others to teach you, correct you, or warn you. It could be a parent, a pastor, a colleague, or most anyone. Listen attentively to their words, and apply their kindness to your life. Crush any pride or stubbornness inside that resists the advice or resents the messenger. Find a Bible-preaching church and learn everything you can from the God-sent preacher.