Rev. Quek Suan Yew
Published in the weekly of
Calvary Pandan Bible-Presbyterian Church, 8 Jan 2023

“Whoso loveth instruction loveth knowledge:
but he that hateth reproof is brutish.”

When we are praised, we like it. When it is constructive criticism or exhortation,
we become defensive and reject it. This phenomenon is deepened when they
come from people we care for and look up to. People like other people to view
them as smart, good and well behaved. People dress well to look smart, and the
reaction is anger when the comments are negative. When a difficult assignment
is completed after much labour, we want others to say it is good. It boosts our
morale and confidence. When there are negative remarks, despondency sets in
immediately, especially when they come from our boss, whom we may wish to
please. This truth applies to students who studied hard and obtained good results
in their own eyes but are not good enough for their parents. Basically, negative
remarks are not very welcome to recipients. Yet, the Bible says that negative
remarks are better than positive ones.

Proverbs 12:1 is one of many verses in the Bible that highlights the importance
of negative remarks.

God says in Proverbs 12:1 that the one who loves instruction loves knowledge.
Love is the strongest and deepest emotion in the believer. This is not the love of
man or from man. Sinful man does not know and does not have this love. This is
the love of God given to every one of His children. Romans 5:5, “And hope
maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by
the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” God gave this love to His children the
moment they accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour by the Holy Spirit.

One of the evidence of a born again believer is the experience of this love of
God in their hearts. In other words, all God’s children ought to love instruction.
The instruction here is the Bible. Ninety percent of the Word of God is about
rebuke. Thus, the Word of God for “instruction” used in Proverbs 12:1 means
“correction” or “chastisement.” Chastisement is the correction that brings
improvement in a person’s life. The motive for chastisement is love. All
believers love chastisement because they know that it comes from God. One of
the main reasons for this is that every believer who is born again is holy in
Christ. It is this holiness in him that helps him love chastisement.

He knows that as he serves and witnesses for Christ in the mortal flesh, he will
continue to be influenced by the powers of this world. The lust of the flesh, the
lust of the eyes and the pride of life have no more dominion over him but that
does not mean they have no impact on him. Every child of God will still
succumb to sin, in his heart, mind, lips and deeds. However, the closer he
draws to God in service, prayer and worship, the holier he will become. The
holier he becomes, the more sensitive he will be to sin. The slightest speck of
sin is now like the size of an elephant in his eyes when before his salvation
“elephant size” sins were not even regarded as sins. That is why he loves
chastisements because he knows that he needs them to be holy.

Another reason for him to love chastisement is that he knows the chastisement
is from his loving heavenly Father. Many of us do not have a problem if the
chastisement is during our Quiet Time when we are reading God’s Word. It
appears to come directly from God. But when the chastisement comes from
man like our spouses, siblings, friends, a teacher or a preacher, we struggle to
accept. In fact, we have to confess that we tend to recoil by retaliation and
justification. Our pride is hurt. We see this as an attack on our person or
character. Therefore, unless we see this as from God our heavenly Father, we
will not be lovers of chastisement.

Our heavenly Father knows us best. He chooses the best instrument to chastise
us so as to help us become holier in Christ. We need to honestly evaluate and
seriously consider the words of the chastisement, and if it is obviously true
then we need to repent and change and be better for Christ’s sake and glory. If
it truly is not justified, then thank God for the chastisement that resulted in an
honest evaluation. Retaliation and being defensive have often resulted in
quarrels and sadly at times, ruined relationships. If we love chastisement, then
God says we also love knowledge.

Our knowledge of God improves as we experience His love, care and mercies
through chastisements. God tells us that He chastises only those He
loves. Hebrews 12:6, “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and
scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.” By the grace of God, we turn head
knowledge into experiential knowledge which is true biblical knowledge. Such
experiential knowledge is priceless as it helps us during future adversities and
whenever we doubt the presence of God in our lives. The precious experiences
through overcoming adversities and acquiring experiential knowledge will
keep us in the faith and strengthen our resolve to stay true to our Lord and
Saviour Jesus Christ and not fall into sin. Our knowledge of self will be
deepened as well.

We are reminded that we are holy works of God in the process. The Master’s Hand
of love continues to chip away all the bad and evil blemishes that tarnish our holy
witness for Christ. We want to be holier and better witnesses for Christ when we
love chastisement. This keeps us humble and the sin of pride away because we
know that the moment pride enters, the next step is the fall.

On the other hand, the one who hates reproof is brutish, i.e. foolish. He is not a
believer because the use of this strong word by God through the KJV translators,
refers to one who is not born again in Christ. The root word for “brutish” is “to be
consumed”; it will either be by fire or being eaten. Since the chastisement is from
God and the fool hates the chastisement from God, it makes sense that he is not
born again in Christ. If, however, the person did not like the chastisement at the
beginning but repents and accepts it later, he is not brutish. He does not hate
reproof because he will repent later.

The fool is one who turns his back on the reproof which means he will remain in
sin. It does not matter that the person does not regard what he has done as sinful;
he will still remain in sin. The reason why he does not see it as sinful is because he
is not born again and cannot see sin for what sin is. The one who is born again is
able to do so because the Holy Spirit who dwells in every believer is the One who
enables him to see and repent. The Holy Spirit will open the eyes of the child of
God to the Word when the Word of God convicts. He cannot help himself but be
convicted like King David. He will say as King David, “I have sinned.” 2 Samuel
12:13, “And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the LORD. And
Nathan said unto David, The LORD also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not
die.” That is why the Bible says that the one who loves chastisement loves
knowledge and the one who hates reproof is brutish, i.e. a fool in God’s eyes!

Conclusion – Negative profitable remarks sanctify. Perhaps if we have a positive
perspective of them, there will be less self-pity and despondency. The world’s
notion of “positivity” and “confidence” hides the reality of life. Man is born in sin.
He lives in sin. He dies in sin and he ends up in hell. This is a very “negative” life.
It is a life of “doom.” The world’s spin on “positivity” is the ploy of the devil to
blind the minds of sinners to the need to find a way out of his “doomed” life. Only
Jesus Christ is able to destroy the devil’s ploy.

Once the sinner realizes he needs the chastisement of the Word of God to convict
him of his innumerable sins against God, he will turn to Jesus Christ as his Lord
and Saviour. It will be the beginning of his love of the knowledge of God. This
love will sustain him. He will continue to love knowledge because he will love
chastisement. Those who come to church expecting no sanctification, i.e.
chastisement, have a real spiritual problem. They might very well not be born
again in Christ. They need to see that the chastisement is from God. Are we
sanctified believers who continue to love sanctification, i.e. the cleansing power of
God’s Word which chastises?