Stinkin’ Thinkin’

[Thursday], we examined two reasons why people fail to heed the counsel of wisdom—found either in Scripture or other sources—when making choices. Some stubbornly resist wisdom because they are strong-willed and refuse to surrender. Others simply fail to hear wise counsel due to insensitivity. Today, we encounter two additional factors.

Indifference

“You neglected all my counsel” (1:25).

The Hebrew term rendered “neglect” has the basic meaning “to let go, let alone, ignore.” The idea is that we keep God’s counsel from making any difference in our thoughts, words, or actions. An individual says, in effect, “I really could not care less!” Believe it or not, an underdeveloped sense of one’s own worth can prompt this kind of response. Psychological studies conducted in the 1990s suggest a strong link between passive-aggressive anger and procrastination. When people fail to accomplish tasks that will benefit them, the problem can be traced back to self-loathing. These studies merely observed and then quantified what Solomon noted nearly three thousand years ago:

He whose ear listens to the life-giving reproof
Will dwell among the wise.
He who neglects discipline despises himself,
But he who listens to reproof acquires understanding.
(15:31–32)

Indifference can also suggest hostility toward God. Like children who fold their arms and intentionally refuse to follow their parents’ instructions, we fail to respond to God’s counsel. God, however, doesn’t suffer the consequences of our indifference. Tragically, we do.

Defensiveness

“And [you] did not want my reproof” (1:25).

The Hebrew language is extremely vivid! The original word translated did not want means “to be unwilling, unyielding, non-consenting.” The image is of one who fights off reproof the way one dodges responsibility when confronted with wrongdoing. The defensive person typically employs one of three strategies:

Denial: the outright refusal to accept the truth of a situation, especially one’s personal guilt

Minimization: refusing to see the full significance of an issue or dismissing it as irrelevant

Shifting blame: assigning responsibility to another or justifying one’s actions as a reasonable response to the wrong-doing of another

The fool habitually engages in these strategies to avoid pain and suffering, presumably for the sake of self-preservation. Solomon, however, called this a form of self-loathing (“despises himself” [Proverbs 15:32]). Those are powerful words from a wise man who had seen the lives of many foolish people come to an early, avoidable end because they refused to heed the warnings of the wise.

From Living the Proverbs by Charles R. Swindoll, copyright © 2012. Reprinted by permission of Worthy Inspired., an imprint of Hachette Book Group, Inc.


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