As we begin to break apart this chapter I think I could write 10 pages on each verse! So many thoughts and convictions come to my mind reading through this chapter again today.
In this post we will discus mostly verses 1 and 23 of the 29th chapter of Proverbs.
1. Whoever remains stiff-necked after many rebukes
will suddenly be destroyed—without remedy.
23. Pride brings a person low,
but the lowly in spirit gain honor.
I choose to put these two verses together because I feel like they deal with such similar struggles in our lives. Lets start by breaking each verse down a bit to make sure that we are understanding it correctly.
“Whoever remains stiff-necked after many rebukes” literally means, a man of reproofs – one who has had a long experience of rebukes and warnings; a man in a state of increasing abstinence, along with an un-teachable spirit. This is a person who has been corrected over and over and each time she was corrected just made her more and more stubborn. Sound like anyone you know? Couldn’t possibly any of us wonderfully, always right, first born out there could it? (If you don’t know what I’m talking about check out the Birth Order Book by Dr. Kevin Leman at http://amzn.com/0800723848 )
Reading the words “stiff-necked” takes me back to my days of training horses. We used the phrase “stiff-necked” when referring to a horse that got angry or was acting very stubborn and would not submit to direction, or the “yoke”, placed upon them. They would literally stiffen their long necks straight out and make you look like a complete fool in front of people! Not that I am talking from experience by any stretch of the imagination…….
Anyways, back to the topic, this got me thinking about the yoke that we are asked to bear by our Heavenly Father. Christ calls his yoke easy, and bids his followers to bear it bravely. Matthew 11:29 instructs us quite clearly:
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
Now, I am not a pastor or seminary student by any stretch of the imagination so if I get something wrong here please “rebuke” me (hahaha, sorry I couldn’t help myself…..I promise I will take the correction with a humble heart….hopefully). I believe that this rebuke could be coming from two different places, from the Holy Spirit and/or from a friend. If we are all honest with each other we would have to admit that no matter how it is presented and with how much love is given it is just flat-out hard to accept criticism! Even when it is the Holy Spirit Himself that is convicting you of a wrong thought or action, it is so hard to swallow our selfish pride and accept our flawed nature and take that step in the direction of humility, appreciation and obedience. Why do we sometimes fight the yoke that we should be so honored to bear? The Bible tells us that we are to take it and learn from it, and that we will on day find our rest in Christ.
This is where verse 23 ties in. “Pride brings a person low, but the lowly in spirit gain honor.” What causes us to become stiff-necked when critique and criticism comes our way? What causes us to ignore the correction given to us by friends, family, pastors, parents, and even Christ? Pride. Its our pride that causes us to become embarrassed, have hurt feelings, become offended easily, and get angry with the ones that care about us. When we can truly grasp even a tiny bit of the greatness of our God we can so easily see how small we really are. What good does our pride bring us? Really……I’d like to know! Anyone have an answer to that? I sure couldn’t think of one.
Has not my hand made all these things, and so they came into being?” declares the LORD. “These are the ones I look on with favor: those who are humble and contrite in spirit, and who tremble at my word. – Isaiah 66:2
When I tell our boys over and over again not to touch the hot stove they do not get angry with me for keeping them from danger or correcting them for the way they run through the kitchen. They stop and look in amazement and respect for the flames of the gas burner and the red lights in the bottom of the stove. And when they eventually decide that they know better than me and become “stiff-necked” about my rebuke…they reach out to touch the hot burner……and then they realize that mommy was only rebuking them out of love and safety for them.
Truly it is a hard thing to accept correction. No matter how it is done or from where it comes. The important lesson to take to heart is that rebuking that correction will only lead to destruction. Just as our boys do not know more than their parents do, we do not know more than our Heavenly Father. To ignore His loving correction is to act pridefully enough to suggest that we do.
We must learn to start each day basking in His greatness, humbly coming before His throne of grace and mercy and shout out to Him THANK YOU for giving me another day to live and breathe and serve You. Only through our true humbleness in our spirit will we receive honor from Christ Jesus.
My challenge tonight to you is this, wake up tomorrow morning and before you get your first cup of coffee I want you to do one thing. *note I did not say before your feet hit the floor. That would be great but as a mom of 3 boys I am usually not even awake before my feet hit the floor. If you can do that then go for it! * Honestly while you are standing there with the pot in your right hand and your cup in your left I want you to pause……take a deep breath…….and then realize the God of all the universe put that breath in your lungs, and then ordained those lungs to fill and contract. Take a moment to realize the fullness of who God is and who you are and who you are not. Take just a moment, and allow yourself to be completely humbled on your face before God Almighty. WOW………..that is amazing isn’t it? I promise you, if you will start your day with this one action, when you find yourself receiving correction tomorrow you will pause and think of this moment before becoming stiff-necked. I promise you that when you can live in the knowledge of His glory you will be able to see that rebuke and correction for what it is… a step in helping you become more like Him.
The Pulpit Commentary was referenced in this post