“You know, you should really put some socks on that baby’s feet. It’s cold outside.” “Remember, feed him vegetables and then fruits otherwise he’ll never eat vegetables!” “Don’t feed your daughter french fries. They’ll make her overweight.” “When my children were little…”
These are just some of the many, many “instructions” that have been given to me since I became a mother over 4 years ago. As it turns out, most of us are willing to offer advice. And I’m sure we all can think of people who should really take our advice! :) But are we willing to accept instruction?
When Solomon wrote the book of Proverbs, he referred to instruction approximately 100 times directly and indirectly. Instruction helps us move from naivete to wisdom. It gives us insight into the right and wrong ways to handle moral and practical situations. It provides knowledge about subjects where before there was none.
Proverbs 1:1-4 read, “The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel: To know wisdom and instruction, to discern the sayings of understanding, to receive instruction in wise behavior, righteousness, justice and equity; to give prudence to the naive, to the youth knowledge and discretion.”
When we receive instruction with a willing spirit we acquire the knowledge to do what is right and act appropriately. Accepting godly advice results in great discretion and prudent behavior. Prudence is defined as caution with regards to personal matters and provident care in the management of resources, economy and frugality. When we listen to and seek the advice of those older and/or wiser we receive many great blessings that can help us in the management of our home, workplace and family.
Proverbs 1:5-7 says, “A wise man will hear and increase in learning, and a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel, to understand a proverb and a figure, the words of the wise and their riddles. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction.”
Are we what the Bible calls a fool? Do we purpose ourselves to grow in wisdom and hear advice? To take it to heart even if at first it offends us? Or do we ignore it? Of course, this instruction should be received in the context of biblical truth. Yet as we can see, instruction is spoken of in regards to practical matters in these verses of Proverbs.
There can be times where advice is unwelcome, out of place or even inappropriate. But before we dismiss it, let’s first take the time to weigh the advice in light of what we already know and in light of what we may really need to learn! Let’s be gentle and humble in heart. Let’s put aside our pride, use discernment and take the advice and instruction the Lord is showing to us through others and through the Word.
“A teachable spirit begins with the realization that one is incomplete–intellectually, morally and spiritually. None of us is all that we can be or need to be. The wise person wants to learn from his mistakes rather than seek to justify them, and doesn’t resent it when his errors are revealed. He goes through life with an underlying sense of thankfulness to God which enables God to develop in him the qualities of Christ-likeness.” John and Susan Yates
Proverbs 27:17 “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”