Saturday, April 11, 2020

Communicating with Wisdom: Part Two

This is the second post in a series of three on the topic of communicating with wisdom, drawing from Proverbs 15. The key principle is humility rooted in the fear of the Lord (Prov. 15:33). In the first post, available here, I wrote on how humility governs our communication with God. In the third post I will get to how it governs how we speak to other people. But in this second post, I turn to the matter of how we ought to listen to other people.

2. Listen to others with humility by seeking wisdom from them. 
"A fool despises his father's instruction,
but whoever heeds reproof is prudent."
(Proverbs 15:5)
Listen to your father. It is foolish to despise the instruction and reproof given by your father (or mother, see verse 20). For a time, you have your parents as personal instructors whose calling is to instruct you. Treasure this gift and use it while you have access to it, that you might be prepared for time to come. Fathers will vary in wisdom, but focus on what you can learn.
"There is severe discipline for him who forsakes the way;
whoever hates reproof will die."
(Proverbs 15:10)
The longer you ignore instruction and the further you go astray, the harsher the consequences get. First there is instruction, then reproof, then human correction, then the destructive results of folly, and then death and judgement. To stay on the good way, give ear to instruction and be responsive to it, repenting early when your sin or folly is exposed by it.
"A scoffer does not like to be reproved;
he will not go to the wise."
(Proverbs 15:12)
Look out for signs of being a scoffer. If you do not like to be reproved, if you do not go to the wise for instruction, then you might be a scoffer. Scoffers are those who proudly scorn wisdom and stubbornly remain in their folly. Put a high price on reproof. Incline your ears to the wise.
"The ear that listens to life-giving reproof
will dwell among the wise.
Whoever ignores instruction despises himself,
but he who listens to reproof gains intelligence."
(Proverbs 15:31–32)
There are many talkers that seek to get your ear. What you listen to will shape the person you become. If you listen to reproof and instruction, it will be to you a source of vitality and intelligence and an entrance into the ranks of the wise.

In summary, there are two ways to listen: the way of the wise and the way of the scoffer. The wise person seeks and heeds instruction and reproof. The scoffer hates being challenged and despises parents and other sources of wisdom.

The wise person is so earnest in the pursuit of wisdom that he is willing to be corrected and instructed. He is humble, willing to look weak for the moment so that he might improve. It takes humility to grow. The scoffer is not willing to be corrected or admit his need for instruction. He might look stronger in the moment, but he actually neglects the source of strength and endurance. As verse 10 says, he may escape minor embarrassments at first, only to face more severe consequences in the future - and in the end, death. It is dangerous to ignore instruction.

So learn early when opportunities to learn are many and future opportunities to use wisdom are many. Those who invest early get the biggest return on their investment, and the same with wisdom. Do not wait until a crisis to gain instruction and character. And for all your life, continue drawing on what you have been taught and adding to it - do not cast away what you have gained, including your ability to learn.

To listen wisely, take care what you listen to. Give ear to the wise, rather than fools or false teachers. Prize wise words and give weight to what wise people say, even if it is humbling. Give ear to life-giving reproof, rather than destructive words of flattery, error, cruelty, or folly. Sometimes this means avoiding foolish words, while other times it means not giving them much weight. We should show patience with others when they fail to speak wisely, knowing that we all speak foolish words from time to time. As we grow in wisdom, we will be able more and more to disagree with others with patience, knowing what words are important.

To listen wisely, take care how you listen to instruction. Listen with an eagerness to learn wisdom and a readiness to put it into practice. The humble will benefit from instruction. God gives wisdom freely to those who ask for it and seek it from him in the ways he has appointed. Even if reproof is not directly given, use what is taught as reproof - reprove and correct yourself based on what you learn.

Continued in part three:
Communicating with Wisdom: Part Three

No comments: