Reproof. The Way of Life?

After reading Proverbs 6 this morning, was chewing a bit on the old adage, “Play with fire, you’re gonna get burned.” The fire of temptation, you don’t want to mess with it. Seems I was noodling on the same thing 5 years ago. But back then, I connected some dots that hit me afresh this morning. For me, a good reminder of the value of rebuke and correction, especially if it’s God doing the correcting through His holy Word. Not sure it’s any easier for me to receive such rebuke today than it was five years ago, but I do think reproofs are the way of life. Here are my thoughts from 2017 . . .

She must have been a beauty. Her allure bordering on irresistible. ‘Cause the father keeps warning his son about her, again and again, in these opening chapters of Proverbs. With the batting of her eyelashes, she captures the unsuspecting’s attention (6:25). With her seductive flattery, she draws him near (7:21). Her lips dripping with honey, her speech “smoother than oil” (5:3), she draws him closer and closer to her door, eventually inviting him into her house.

“Keep your way far from her,” warns Wisdom (5:8). For to even give her a second glance is to run the risk of becoming addicted to her intoxicating ways. And it won’t turn out well.

Can a man carry fire next to his chest and his clothes not be burned? Or can one walk on hot coals and his feet not be scorched?

(Proverbs 6:27-28 ESV)

Who doesn’t know that? Play with fire, you’re gonna get burned. The problem is recognizing the fire. The trick is being on guard against the subtle, disguised call of infidelity. Believing that she’s out there. If not in a person, in the ways of a world which compete for those betrothed to Christ, subtly calling them to ways of unfaithfulness.

So how do we recognize her voice? How do we see the deception–and eventual destruction–that is hers?

My son, keep your fathers commandment, and forsake not your mothers teaching. Bind them on your heart always; tie them around your neck. When you walk, they will lead you; when you lie down, they will watch over you; and when you awake, they will talk with you. For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light, and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life, to preserve you from the evil woman, from the smooth tongue of the adulteress.

(Proverbs 6:20-24 ESV)

We need to heed instruction. To bind the Father’s words on our hearts and tie them around our necks. Not literally, as did the Pharisees with their ostentatious phylacteries tied about their heads and arms, but enveloping our minds and souls with His teaching such that it lead us, watches over us, and speaks to us. So internalizing His commandments that they truly become a lamp and light, preserving us from the seductive calls of darkness.

Makes sense doesn’t it? But why is it so hard to do? Here’s what hit me this morning . . . the last part of verse 23 . . .

. . . and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life . . .

Who likes reproof? Uh, not me.

I might say I value “constructive criticism” and that I won’t become defensive, but not gonna lie, my natural reaction is to bristle at rebuke. As humble as I think I might try to be, something about being chastised that wakes up the pride monster within me (probably because he’s not in that deep of sleep anyhow).

But if I’m gonna stay away from the fire, if I’m serious about avoiding hot coals in my lap, if I really believe that the seductress is really as seductive as the Father says she is, then I’m gonna need to envelope myself with the Word of God and brace myself for it’s reproving work in my life.

And when my failure is exposed, I need to apply again the blood of Christ shed for all my failure. When my fickleness is made evident, I need to put on again the Son of God who Himself is ever faithful. When the flesh’s temptation to heed the seductress’s voice is made manifest, I need to, by the power of the Spirit indwelling me, crucify the flesh which has already died with Christ.

Reproof. It’s the way of life.

It’s the practical path to realizing the fullness promised through the gospel. The nuts and bolts for remaining true to Him who has betrothed me as His own.

The way made possible by His grace. The way made possible for His glory.

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