You may find that provocative word in Proverbs 12:1, but in reality, it takes on a whole other meaning than what you might think.
By Shawn A. Akers
One of the most famous lines from the movie Forrest Gump is Forrest’s proclamation, “stupid is as stupid does.” Forrest says “Just like Lt. Dan doesn’t want to be called crippled, I don’t want to be called stupid.”
My wife, Patty, and I used to chastise our children for calling other children stupid. We told them to never use that word again, and we tried to do the same to set the example.
Nobody wants to be called stupid, especially by the Bible, the Word of God. Yet in Proverbs 12:1 says, “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but whoever hates correction is stupid” (NIV). Other versions, like the Modern English Version, translates the last line to say, “but he who hates reproof is brutish.”
The word brutish has several meanings: cruel, gross, coarse, carnal, sensual, uncivilized and even bestial, like an animal. I kid you not. Look it up here on dictionary.com.
Now we all know that God is not calling people out by using those names. He is not a God that will ridicule people or bring cruel and unjust punishment on them, as many believe by holding true to the Old Testament. We know that Jesus brought grace, mercy and redemption to mankind by dying on the cross.
But, and there is simply no way around this. Some people just aren’t going to get it. They simply choose to be obedient and not heed to instruction—whether they be believers or non-believers. As non-believers, this might be excused because these people don’t know the truth of God’s Word. Believers, on the other hand …
The love of instruction implies humility. It argues a sense of ignorance and need of information.
Instead of stupid or foolish, I choose to use the word defiant here. Let’s take a look at the first part of Proverbs 12:1—“Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge.” Obviously, if you don’t want knowledge—the knowledge of what will improve your relationship with Christ by leaps and bounds—then you will hate discipline. You don’t believe you need discipline in your life and that you’re doing OK living the way you are.
Some may call that stupid or foolish. I call it defiant. And I should know. I defied God for many, many years before I decided I needed His discipline.
Studyight.org tell us that “It is by instruction that knowledge comes. He who fancies he has all in himself will never learn. … The love of instruction implies humility. It argues a sense of ignorance and need of information. It is a common thing for men to allow pride to cheat them of much valuable knowledge.”
I don’t know about you, but when it comes to the knowledge of God, I don’t want to be cheated out of anything. I want everything I can get to live an obedient and righteous life.
But that means only one thing—submission to God. And I know a lot of people who either simply do not want to submit to God because of their own selfish desires or others who do want to but simply won’t do it. I put myself in the latter category in my younger years.
Many children learn to disobey their parents while growing up, and that pattern of sin simply never leaves them. You disobey your parents, and then society and then the Word of God.
A man may get by on wickedness for a while and think he’s living a wonderful life. But, in general, the triumph of wicked is short. God will see to that, sooner or later. I don’t want to have that to look forward to.
My advice? Don’t be stupid, er, I mean, defiant. And I don’t mean that in a demeaning way. It’s my experience that when you’re obedient to God instead of disobedient, then He is more apt to be benevolent to you. Not that He loves you any more or any less because He always stays the same. “Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart” (Psa. 37:4).
Do something today to step out of the boat and become a kingdom champion.
Step Out of the Boat is a ministry created by Charisma Media Content Development Editor Shawn A. Akers and dedicated to help Christ followers to become spiritual champions and come to a more intimate relationship with Jesus. With its articles, podcasts and other forms of media, Step Out of the Boat encourages Christ followers to daily reach to a higher level in their calling. Shawn is a 35-year veteran sportswriter, a published poet and he published a story about Dale Earnhardt in NASCAR Chicken Soup for the Soul. You can read his blog here. You can also listen to his podcasts, the Javelin Sports Show, on the Charisma Podcast Network.