By Daniel Diffey, PhD
College of Theology
August 12, 2015
School is about to start again. Near the beginning of each of my classes, I give a short lecture on the importance of instruction (and particularly accepting instruction) within the Christian life. Whether you are in class, at church or at your job, it is important to accept instruction.
The concept of instruction has, however, fallen on hard times. Instruction is something that our culture is increasingly hostile towards. We all likely bristle up like a cat when someone instructs us or corrects us. If you are like me, you may even default to the sinful position of thinking something like “How dare that person think that they are in a position of authority over me to try to teach or correct me.”
To have this as a default setting, however, is detrimental to the Christian life. I often find that people, particularly young people, mistakenly dismiss instruction as judgment. One needs wisdom to be able to discern the difference between these.
Within the Christian life, instruction, and even correction and rebuke, is a very important concept. Within the wise literature of the Old Testament, we see that the book of Proverbs was written for the purpose of instruction. Solomon writes about this saying that he wrote the book to instruct:
“To know wisdom and instruction,
to understand words of insight,
to receive instruction in wise dealing,
in righteousness, justice, and equity;
to give prudence to the simple,
knowledge and discretion to the youth—
Let the wise hear and increase in learning,
and the one who understands obtain guidance,
to understand a proverb and a saying,
the words of the wise and their riddles.
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge;
fools despise wisdom and instruction.” (Proverbs 1:2-7)
Solomon is writing this book to instruct in things like wise dealing, righteousness, justice and equity. Think about our society and our churches.
We could use this, couldn’t we? These are things that we desperately need. Note the ending of this passage in particular. Proverbs 1:7 is saying that the wise are those who fear God and accept instruction, but the fool despises wisdom and instruction.
So as we ponder this concept of instruction, I think that it is helpful to do the following things:
- Think about whether you are willing to accept instruction. In doing this you may even find that it is helpful to ask those close to you, who are trustworthy, whether you are willing to accept instruction.
- Pray that you would have a soft heart and that you would be willing to accept godly instruction. Remember the reason why we want to grow in instruction is to grow in our knowledge of God so that we can know how to live righteous, just and equitable lives.
- Read the book of Proverbs. But when you are reading, don’t read it quickly. Instead it is better to contemplate the instruction being distilled through God’s word.
- Put the book of Proverbs into practice. As you are reading the book of Proverbs, seek to live out the teaching of the book for the glory of God in Christ and by the power of the Spirit that dwells in us.