Sep20FriSeptember 20, 2019
Proverbs 9:7-9 says, “He that reproveth a scorner getteth to himself shame: and he that rebuketh a wicked man getteth himself a blot. Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee. Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.”
I have vague memories of my grandfather’s house. We called him “Paw” and he lived alone for the latter portion of his life. He decided to revert back into the old days and live a simplistic life. There was no electricity in his house, other than one wire he bootlegged from a nearby power pole, and it had a bulb hanging on the end of it in the living room that you had to twist in to turn it on and twist it out to turn it off. We all burned our fingertips turning that light off.
What was even more inconvenient and scary than the electrical situation was the two-seat outhouse at the end of a trail in the back yard. It was infested with bees, wasps, maggots and a host of other pests that made your visit unpleasant. I hated that part of my weekends at my grandfather’s house.
My grandfather’s house also had no running water. There was a well outside that we went to often to draw water from. I used to lean over and look down into that well. You could see your reflection from high above. We would draw the water out and all of us washed for supper in the same wash pan. Yuck! That water would then be taken outside and dumped out by the back door. The experiences were memorable, and I loved going to his house.
The heart of a young person is like that old well at Ben Castleberry’s house. It is deep. It is a necessary part of life on a farm. However, it can be dangerous.
If the well is like a young person’s heart, then the buckets are what our passage calls reproof, rebuke and instruction. This passage is a test. The Heart of a youth is tested by the acts of reproof, rebuke and instruction.
No teenager welcomes the negative experience of reproof and rebuke. No one likes to be told they are wrong. I didn’t like that experience either. If the teen is a scorner, or a wicked man (cf. Prov. 9:7) the experience will be made worse. The is due to the fact that the young person has no appreciation for constructive criticism. Realize this: sometimes you have to tear down before you can build up. The young person who is blind to that reality will respond to rebuke by shaming the instructor, and he/she will attempt to blot the instructor who reproves.
I have been involved in education for most of my adult life. My experience ranges all the way from elementary education all the way up to being a college professor and even a college president. I have seen students that were rising stars because they soaked up instruction like a sponge. I have seen others, however, who I knew were in deep trouble in life because they could not receive instruction. They mocked the teacher who tried to help them. Sadly, I have never seen that turn out well for students on any level, but especially those who are in high school or the university level. Proverbs 9:8a says, “Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee . . .”
Then there is that other kid who absorbs every kind of instruction. Believe me, he/she refreshes any instructor. The instructor has a bucket and they are looking for fresh water. When they are able to draw out cool water it fulfills the student and the teacher. It starts a relationship that will almost never go wrong: a receptive student and a gifted instructor. Proverbs 9:8b adds, “. . . rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee.”
Did you know that your well is deep? Did you know that the instructors in your life receive as much from their experience with you as you do with them? Did you know that they feel fulfilled when you receive their instruction? Did you know that they feel ashamed and inept when they cannot draw water from your well? Do you see love when you are being instructed, or reproved, or rebuked? Are you receptive of all forms of instruction? Have you ever falsely accused a teacher who got a little unpleasant, or harsh with you so they could keep you on track?
You are making progress in life when you absolutely and genuinely adore the teacher who is not always positive, but also knows how to instruct by using constructive criticism. Proverbs 9:9, Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.
I will take the risk now of using a Star Wars illustration if you promise you won’t nerd out on me. Do you remember the padawans in Star Wars? The Jedis were always screening younglings, looking for those who were especially receptive to their training. They were looking for the gifted, but most importantly, they were looking for the receptive young person. They were then called padawan learners and apprentices.That term “padawan” was actually a part of the original language of Scripture, and it referred to a student in training. Maybe George Lucas was a Bible believer after all.