Proverbs 10:17, He is in the way of life that keepeth instruction: but he that refuseth reproof erreth.
The Course – He is in the way of life
Only the teachable later become teachers. Their path is charted when they are listeners. Those who choose to live in spite of the instruction that is available to them will lose their way in life. This way that he speaks of is the way of a happy and fulfilled life. It is not just a heartbeat and physical life. It is also referring to joy and peace and fulfillment that only come from obedience to the Word of God and the instructions of Scripture.
There is, of course, the opposite of this happy life. Proverbs 14:12 says, “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” Making sure that you are on the right course could be a matter of life and death.
The Choice – that keepeth instruction
It takes consistent dedication to abiding by the instruction of God’s Word to walk in the way of life. It requires alertness and commitment. Getting off the straight and narrow does not often happen suddenly. It usually involves making small steps that begin to blur the course that you and I are on. When those small steps are being taken, it is instruction and instructors that correct the course.
The Castaway – but he that refuseth reproof erreth
Refusing instruction brings failure, non-achievement and crashing. The course of life is full of regret for those who refuse instruction. Proverbs 29:1 says, “He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.” There is a boundary that can be best described as the point of no return. When a young person crosses that line he/she is irretrievable according to the Bible. The question is are those boundaries clearly marked? The answer is yes, and no. At one time you knew where they were, but suddenly you become blind to the boundaries. Others can clearly see the danger, but when you are wandering near the boundary, you will be mostly blind to the hazard of crossing the line.
I have met more than my fair share of young castaways. They are typically involved in much, much more sinful behavior than they intended to get into. It almost always begins with experimentation with their instruction and instructors. When they find that their church, or their school, or their home is cramping their lifestyle and forbidding them from obtaining their heart’s sinful desires, they seek to change their source of instruction. They seek out alternative methods of instruction that are less confining and restrictive. This is just the beginning. In the better end they admit like Solomon in Proverbs 5:12, “. . . How have I hated instruction, and my heart despised reproof . . .” Ultimately, they all say the same thing in the end; “I wish I could go back and do things differently.”
My final admonition is simple: be teachable and be truthful. Place yourself in the hands of the Lord and His Word and learn. Let those who God has placed in your life as instructors have influence and input. This is what I mean by being teachable. Be truthful. If you are struggling, do not struggle in silence alone. Tell your parents, your youth pastor, your spiritual peers that you are having thoughts of wandering from God’s Word. Those who become shipwreck seemed to hide their feelings. Be teachable. Be truthful.
Brad Bailey is a husband, father of four, author, pastor-teacher and college president in Brandon, Florida.