If you want to be wise, you will have to learn the value of reproof and rebuke. That is a tough thing to do because very few of us take to these things at all. We are fallen creatures therefore a couple things are true of us. First of all, we usually think we are right. This creates a problem because we react with pride and defensiveness when we are rebuked and reproved. Second of all, we are rebellious. Therefore when someone offers correction our first response is to resist and resent it. But as we will see from today's proverb of the day, these things can really hurt us.
We dwell among the wise when our ear is open to "life-giving reproof." I am so glad that when God inspired this He made a distinction between life-giving reproof and other kinds of reproof. The difference between these two is that life-giving reproof is correction that is bent toward blessing us and offering us rebuke that will turn us away from sin and turn us to God who gives us life. To be reproved in this way turns us from our own way, the way of the world, and the way of destruction - which is how the devil will seek to offer us. Thus it turns us away from death and sin, and instead points us into the way of life - or said another way - into the ways of God. Regular reproof is correction based out of an idividual's preferences. Jesus was reproved . . . often. He faced Pharisees who rebuked Him for His teaching, His miracles, and the people He chose to hang around. People will reprove you for walking in the ways of God. This kind of reproof requires both understanding and discernment on our part. Just because someone reproves you, does not mean that they are correct in their reproof. That is why Solomon warns us only to open our ear to "life-giving" reproof.
We read in verse 32 of a person who neglects discipline. The word discipline means instruction that offers truth and a disciplinary rebuke or correction. Godly men and women offer discipline to us to bless us in the end. But the unwise man rejects it outright. When he does this Scripture tells us that he "despises himself." He hates himself when he does these things. The rejection of all discipline and moral limits will destroy our lives. You can easily see in a child who is a spoiled brat this danger. The child gets his own way - and is not corrected so as to learn wise and godly behavior. In the end this child will destroy himself with their selfishness and self-centered behavior.
The one who listens to godly reproof will aquire "understanding." The word here refers to the heart - or the inner moral life and compass that we need to have. When we listen to reproof and learn from it - our inner moral compass is set by God's standards. We learn right and wrong. We may simply respond to discipline by avoiding the pain of it at first. This is the response of a child who is spanked early on in life. The initially avoid the behaviors to avoid pain. But after a while the child, if trained properly, is also learning "why" they are not to do something. The process teaches understanding. The child learns from the wisdom of the parent that there are reasons to avoid the moral bahavior. This understanding will guide them and teach them that when discpline comes - it is from love that people offer it. When followed such wisdom will truly bless any man or woman who will take the time - and often the pain that rebuke often brings - to learn from it.