Proverbs 12:1 says "Whoso loveth instruction loveth knowledge: but he that hateth reproof [is] brutish." Proverbs 12:15 says "The way of a fool [is] right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel [is] wise." Proverbs 12:18 says "There is that speaketh like the piercings of a sword: but the tongue of the wise [is] health." Today I would like to tie these three proverbs together. [All quotes are from the King James Bible.]
The first deals with the love of knowledge and the hatred of reproof. On the radio one morning I heard of a situation in Indonesia where militant Muslims were destroying Christian churches and an orphanage. The night before, on the CBS news I had heard an interview of a man who was raised as a fundamentalist Christian who is now into robbing banks to bankroll an internal war against the government of the United States, with death to people as simply the consequences of war. In the Omaha World Herald several months earlier I had read of Catholic priests inciting their followers to murder evangelicals in Mexico. The thing that all of these illustrations have in common is their unwillingness to hear reproof. The proper response to someone who charges us with believing in a lie is curiosity, not rage. This first proverb tells us that those who respond to the charge of believing and/or promoting a lie with rage are brutish. The word means stupid. Anytime someone charges us with believing a lie, we ought to be curious. Curious, first, so that we might check out the charge to see if it is true. Only a stupid person believes he only believes the truth. Curious, second, so that we might discover why the person made the charge in the first place. Our attitude toward religious differences (rage or curiosity) tells others what kind of person we are.
The second proverb deals with the way of the fool. He is right in his own eyes. Proverbs, in other places, even goes so far as to say it is a waste of time to try to correct a fool. After all, what is to correct if everything he believes is true? This proverb is the basis for my claim in the previous paragraph that only a stupid person believes he only believes the truth. The stupid fool (these are the Bible's words, not mine) is the person who thinks his beliefs are all correct and responds to challenge to them with hatred.
The third proverb is the most curious. It says that "there is that speaketh like the piercings of a sword". Then it contrasts the tongue of the wise to that sword. Yet, in the same chapter of Proverbs, the writer has already said that people who think they are always right are fools and those who despise being challenged are stupid. Talk about the piercings of a sword!
What does this mean? It means that being called stupid and foolish is not necessarily bad--though on the lips of some, it is.
The proverbs challenge our love for Truth. Do we love it?
Or do we simply get mad when others challenge our grasp of it?