Being able to receive instruction gracefully is not something we are born with the ability to do. We are all born with pride in our hearts, and we like to think that we know everything. We like to think we don’t need anyone to tell us what to do or how to do it. But the Bible teaches that there are consequences to holding onto and rewards for ridding our hearts of the pride that we have in ourselves.
Proverbs 13:1 A wise son heeds his father’s instruction, but a mocker does not listen to rebuke… 3 He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin… 10 Pride only breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice… 13 He who scorns instruction will pay for it, but he who respects a command is rewarded… 18 He who ignores discipline comes to poverty and shame, but whoever heeds correction is honored. (NIV)
In Proverbs 13:1, we are given the instruction that a wise son hears his father’s instruction. This is not speaking of merely hearing the words, but accepting and living by them, taking into consideration the implications of these words on what is being done and said. The most common way that our pride manifests itself is in what comes out of our mouths. Sometimes it is just the words themselves that are a problem, but often it is a combination of the words with the tone and inflection of the voice that reveal the pride of one’s heart. If we allow a heart of pride to guide us, we will often regret what we say and do, and others will be hurt in the process. Verse three equates guarding ones mouth and preserving one’s life, and makes it clear that the words that come out of our mouths can get us into trouble and bring us to ruin.
Further consequences of allowing pride to get in the way of our receiving instruction are outlined in verses 10, 13, and 18, along with the rewards of laying down our pride and accepting instruction. The consequences of allowing our pride to drive us are quarreling, poverty, and disgrace. Verse 13 says that whoever scorns instruction will pay for it. Scripture does not go into detail about how it will be paid for, as the circumstances and consequences will vary with each individual and situation, but the end result is that in some way there will be a loss of one degree of severity or another.
The alternative we have is to wisely accept advice and instruction. These verses teach us that we will be rewarded for respecting a command, and heeding reproof brings the very honor that our prideful hearts were seeking. In the long run, we will be honored and respected more by laying down our pride than we will ever be in living by it.