There are some things in Scripture that are so obviously true that you wonder why they had to be written down. But then, as you examine your life or you see the life of another, you realize that not everybody does what God says should be simple to understand.
Whoever ignores instruction despises himself,
but he who listens to reproof gains intelligence.
OK, that proverb is about as simple and straightforward as you can imagine. If you care about your wellbeing, you will listen to others when they give you instruction. When somebody warns you about a danger in your life, you will pay attention. But, the opposite is true. If you do not listen to the opinions of others, when you do not let others speak into your life, you put your life in a place of disadvantage. The Proverb says you actually hate yourself if you will not listen to others.
As I said, that is just about the definition of common sense. Yet, we know that not all people around us hear it. And, if the truth be known, not all of us are able to follow it either. We often fight against allowing others to speak into our lives. We often hold back from putting ourselves in a position to learn from others and grow toward greater maturity.
A little life experience on my part tells me that this is not always an across-the-board problem for us. What I mean is that I will often be open to reproof in some areas of life. I have some categories that I will openly confess my shortcomings to others and ask for counsel. But there are other areas, pride points, where I do not eagerly receive the advice or counsel of others. There are areas where I am just sure I have it all figured out, and in those areas, I am not open.
We need to be wiser than all that. We cannot be islands to ourselves. We need to be connected to others in the family of God. WE need to be open enough to let others see our true selves. We also need to be wise enough to let others speak into our lies, even into those places where we think we have it all together. The truth is, we are all sinful and frail enough that we need help in any category. No Christian is so strong that he or she cannot still grow.
Let me add in one more piece of wisdom from this Proverb. Keep in mind the principle: If you hate yourself, you will not receive counsel; but if you listen to reproof, you gain intelligence. This is simply not something that a Christian can do apart from genuine and intentional connection in the local church. Yes, you can talk with people over social media or even on the phone. Yes, you can keep up with people from miles away or listen to messages from conference speakers. But if you really want to see genuine growth in your life, you cannot remove yourself from connecting to the local church. You need to be open with those who are with you from week to week. You need to be honest and seek the counsel of elders. You need to listen to reproof, even when it comes from someone you think has it less together than you. Sometimes it is from the weaker brother or sister that you and I will find points of growth. No, we do not allow people to demand we change to fit their preferences all the time. But we do listen and learn. And one of the clearest places the Lord has given us to learn in this way is the local congregation.
Are you wise or foolish? Are you growing or self-despising? The answer to these questions boils down to the answer to whether you receive counsel from others or refuse to listen. Let us be wise and make this commonsense proverb even more common.