1Whoever loves instruction loves knowledge, But he who hates correction is stupid.
The Proverbs direct us in the way of wisdom and teach us what it is to imitate the character of our Lord and Savior Jesus. Today we begin a series of exhorations through Proverbs 12. In v. 1, Solomon contrasts two types of men, men who are characterized by their loves and hates.
It is important to emphasize that love and hate are not, in themselves, virtues or vices. Though we often think of love as inherently virtuous and hate as vicious, the truth is that their praiseworthiness is determined by their object. To love Jesus; to love your wife and children; to love Scripture; to love truthfulness – all these loves are virtuous. However, to love wickedness, to love deceit, to love cruelty – these loves are perverse. Similarly, while it is vile to hate God, to hate the righteous, to hate truth and goodness and beauty, it is praiseworthy to hate deceitfulness, murder, covetousness, and sushi. God summons us, therefore, to be men and women and children who both love and hate – who love what is lovely and hate what is vile.
So, on the one hand, Solomon lauds the man who loves instruction. So what does it mean to love instruction? I think we know. Kids, if you have a friend who loves pizza or loves soccer or loves Xbox, what does that mean? It means that your friend can’t get enough pizza, that he eagerly plays or watches or studies soccer games and scores, that he regularly seeks opportunities to play Xbox with his friends. So what would it mean to love instruction? It means he is eager to learn more and more. He readily listens to those wiser and more knowledgable than him. He cultivates a listening ear and an inquisitive heart. He wants to learn more of God’s Word, more of God’s world, more of his occupation. So he reads, he listens, he watches, he asks questions all in order to learn. This person, the one who loves instruction, likewise, Solomon tells us, loves knowledge. He grows in knowledge because he loves instruction. Tell me more; give me more; I want to grow.
On the other hand is the man who hates correction. This man thinks he knows it all. He is proud and unteachable. He refuses to listen to those wiser than himself. He closes his ears. “Yes, I know, I know,” he says even though it is evident that he does not. This man, Solomon tells us, is stupid. He is like a beast not a man.
So what of you? Do you love instruction? Do you look for opportunities to learn? Let’s say you don’t know much about the Bible – are you striving to learn more, reading more, listening more? Let’s say you’re a new parent – are you asking seasoned parents for wisdom, reading good books, listening to good teaching? Let’s say you’re married – do you love to learn more about what makes a good marriage and how to make your marriage grow and flourish? Let’s say you’re an employee – do you strive to learn more about your job so that you can bless your employer more and more? Do you love instruction or do you hate it?
Do you hate correction? When your parents correct you, do you listen and repent or do you become sullen and angry? When your boss criticizes your work, do you listen and strive to get better or do you think you know it all? When your husband exhorts you, do you listen or do you become bitter and resentful? When your elders correct you, do you listen or do you just pack up your bags and find another church? Do you love correction or do you hate it?
Reminded that we are to love what is lovely and hate what is vile, let us confess to the Lord that our loves and hates are often disordered and distorted. Let us acknowlege, in particular, that we often hate instruction and correction, that we are stupid creatures. And as we confess our sin to the Lord, let us kneel as we are able. We will have a time of silent confession followed by the corporate confession found in your bulletin.