“Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.” (Proverbs 12:1)
Our consideration of the Proverbs thus far has brought us to face many recurring themes; one of those themes is teachability. In fact, teachability is not merely a theme but a must. The one who seeks to gain wisdom and walk on the path of the righteous must be teachable. The inspired writer minces no words here: if one is not teachable, he is stupid.
The word stupid isn’t very pleasant – and it’s not intended to be! The underlying Hebrew word signifies a brute beast. Solomon has no motive to be condescending to his children’s intellectual capacities, and this usage is no excuse for us to use such a harsh word in everyday language when referring to people made in the image of God. In fact, many children are taught that a word like stupid is just as bad as a curse word and should be avoided.
So why is the word employed here? Hopefully, the point is clear by now. The stupidity does not refer to the ability to understand but the refusal to learn. How can someone who refuses to be taught learn anything? How can someone who thinks he knows everything he needs to know further his understanding? How can someone who hates reproof change his foolish ways? Growth is impossible for the one who cannot stand correction.
Are you teachable? What is your reaction when instructed? What is your response to correction? The Proverbs calls us all, young and old, to be humble as children. But remember, a childlike character is not a childish character. Childish behavior involves crying and fussing when one doesn’t get his way. Childish people remain children. But a childlike spirit recognizes his total dependency on the Father’s instruction and words, and readily receives correction in order to be more conformed to the image of the Good Son. Toward that end, “the wise man listens to advice” (v15). Are you listening?