“As an earring of gold, and an ornament of fine gold, so is a wise reprover upon an obedient ear.” Proverbs 25:12
Young Pilgrim, the proverb speaks of jewels; jewels of great value. The value has been increased by the removal of the impurities in the gold. The proving of the gold has made it more precious. Not only are these ornaments now precious from the viewpoint of their worth, but also from the viewpoint of their endearment. These jewels are become objects which are dear to us. This is illustrated by how we use these jewels, that is, we adorn ourselves with them.
The proverb also speaks of a “wise reprover”. Reproof is not necessarily an act of one in authority. Each of us must express our disapproval, for example, of an unjust deed or word by another who is perhaps our peer. However, the perspective of this proverb is from the view of authority. That this is true is evident from the mention made of “an obedient ear.”
The scope of this proverb is, then, that even as an ornament would serve to add beauty to its bearer, so the word of wisdom given by method of reproof will grace the obedient hearer.
Notice, Young Pilgrim, the mutual benefit derived from this reproof. On the one hand the one who receives the reproof and responds in obedience benefits, for he has now made a positive development in, shall we say, his conduct. On the other hand, the one who reproved also benefits, for he sees fruit upon his word of wisdom. Together, the reprover and the obedient complement each other.
Now the question is “What are the spiritual implications of all this?” In answer to this question we will attempt to look at two particular areas of authority in our lives.
You are concerned, Young Pilgrims, with the relationship you have with your parents, are you not? God has given to you parents to be an authority over you. Their reproof is a function of that authority. You must view the reproof they give as a valuable jewel which is precious to you.
By nature we despise reproof. We believe ourselves to be pretty good, rather mature for our young age, wise beyond our years. Who needs parents to tell us that we are wrong? Who do parents think they are anyway? Why do they always think they must belittle us? They never praise us, in fact, often they minimize our efforts.
Wise reproof adorns an obedient ear.
When your parents would adorn your ears with wise reproof, it is your calling to respond in unwavering obedience. To continue in disobedience is to cast aside a valuable jewel. This would be disgraceful. But when you take the jewel and grace yourself with its beauty in obedience, then both you and your parents benefit. You have been advanced and developed in Godly conduct. Furthermore, your obedience reflects, as a jewel, a positive fruit upon your parents labor. They also are advanced because their wise reproof is reflected in a Godly conduct in their Young Pilgrim.
And why shouldn’t your parents know something about the struggles of young pilgrims? Remember that they too were once young! Moreover, even now they also are children of our Heavenly Father. Wayward children, too! And He comes to them with His Word.
A word of reproof.
The preaching is the second area in our lives which we should examine. Authoritative preaching must be based upon the Scriptures. And scripture “is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” II Tim. 3:16,17. Reproof then is an essential ingredient in the preaching.
Explicit reprimand for our denial of doctrine is a must in the preaching. The sharp and piercing (Heb. 4:12) reproof effects an examination of self. It is not enough for us to hear, for example, how others would deny the truth of total depravity. What we must hear in the preaching is that we, ourselves, deny this fundamental truth! The truth devastates our self-esteem, does it not? By nature we do not want it! Yet, without this truth, salvation would not be wholly Divine and it would be impossible for us to walk in gratitude for such deliverance from our depravity!
But I fear sometimes that the preaching is not as sharp as it should be. We hear about the apostacy of others. But, if through the preaching we are reproved for our sins of apostacy, it is mild. Agreed, for another example, that it is a shame that others allow women to be office-bearers. But what does that have to do with the personal salvation of each individual believer in the congregation?
There must be wise reproof in the preaching. It must adorn obedient ears. Instruction in obedience demands reproof! Only when we stand thoroughly reproved by the preaching do we understand sin and grace! Being brought to our knees in confession, receiving forgiveness of sins, we are comforted by the Word. Then follows the resolve to walk in new obedience.
In the way of obedience we receive all the benefits of salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He bestows these benefits upon us.
He adorns our ears with His wise reproof. He gives spiritual hearing and understanding. He gives obedience. We grow in His grace. As obedient children we give praise and honor and glory to His Name.