I suppose I should apologize for the title of this article, but it is in direct reference to a biblical passage that I don't think gets enough attention, so I'll withhold the apology at least until the end.
“Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid.”
Stupidity comes easily, doesn't it? Well, maybe not for you folks reading this, but for guys like me, stupidity is almost on par with a hobby. Making dumb decisions comes naturally. This is a basic function of being human. And what really confirms our humanity is how often and brazenly we deny our own stupidity. I affectionately call this "proud folly" (or politics). The bible addresses this folly with the principle of instruction, or correction, and does so in a blissfully sarcastic way.
How many of us like someone pointing a finger in our chest and teasing, "You're stupid, you're stupid?" I'd dare guess that none of us seek out such ridicule. Or do we?
The passage above from Proverbs states that if we resist instruction or correction that we, in fact, are slamming the finger of ridicule in our own chest, shouting, "I'm stupid. I don't heed the corrective warnings of truth. I'm stupid." What a ridiculous picture, right? I believe that is exactly the point God is trying to make. Only a fool resists the life- saving correction of truth and wisdom. Something we all need to continue in grace.
One of the pillars for building a life of consistent, daily purity is accountability, or community. We need the regular connection with other Christians if we expect to make any progress on the path to purity. But there are levels of accountability (Teacher, Peer, & Student). You can't expect that just because a "herd" of people (peers) decide to move in any arbitrary direction that they are actually moving toward the truth, or purity. There must be guideposts (teachers) that offer feedback to the sojourner that he is actually going the right way.
God's Word, the bible, is our perfect guidepost. At every step and turn, the Word (in coordination with the Holy Spirit) resonates against our being, alerting us to any discordant moves. It is when we are out of step with God's Word that we have a choice to make: change course according to the corrective Word, or stubbornly resist correction and jam stiff fingers deeper into inflated chests, silently screaming, "I'm stupid!" We all face this choice regularly. And we have all felt that finger of pride penetrate a rib or two along the way.
But God doesn't only bring correction by His Word. He also brings fellow saints, our brothers and sisters in Christ, to point out where we are off course. This is the principle of accountability. We are called to live our lives together, not disconnected and isolated. When we do this there is greater opportunity for growing in discipline and knowledge.
Have you ever tried to accomplish a goal alone and failed? But did you try to accomplish that goal with someone else helping you? If so, your chances of success increased dramatically. This is how correction harmonizes with accountability: we help each other move forward. But to refuse or reject correction halts the potential healing and growth this beautiful principle can bring. Thus, hating correction is stupid, foolish!
It is important to note that correction is a GOOD thing! The choice to repeatedly reject it is the foolish stupidity. Sometimes, living in a culture that worships and pursues pleasure at the expense of truth, it can be easy to lose sight of the goodness and purity inherent in correction (and even rebuke) from God's Word and faithful saints. Correction is not the conduit of shame; despising it is.
Are your ribs hurting? Are you tired of carrying the unnecessary weight of shame that comes from repeatedly pushing away correction? Then I'd like to invite you to a new response, a new vision for engaging the correction of the Word and faithful saints. Love it. Seek it out. Don't rush past these guideposts, but rather embrace them, learn from them, and eventually share the wisdom you have gained with others who are just as battered and bruised as you once were.
Am I sorry for the title? Nah... It might be one bruise that actually brings healing. So, here's my final jab: Stupid is as stupid does