Proverbs is an incredible book that encourages the reader to seek wisdom. “Let the wise listen to these proverbs and become even wiser. Let those with understanding receive guidance” (Proverbs 1:5, NLT). With simple truths that bring amazing clarity, Proverbs imparts wisdom that has the potential to develop godly character. If we seek His understanding and allow its message to impact our lives, God's wisdom has the power to change us.
There are many comparisons between a wise person and a fool, but in Proverbs 17:10 there is a one that makes me stop and take deeper notice. “A wise person will learn more from a warning than a fool will learn from a hundred lashings” (Proverbs 17:10, NCV). Personally I would rather be someone who can be instructed with one warning that be someone who is so foolish that a hundred beatings will make no difference. A fool can't be taught. Wisdom imparts a teachable spirit, and one that responds well to instruction. When God disciplines my life, I want to realize it quickly without punishment needing to be repeated. If I have wisdom, I can discern the difference between when I am disciplined for something I have done wrong and when I am pruned for greater growth so that I might flourish. The pain can hurt terribly in both instances, but the reason is vastly different. God disciplines because of sin, but He prunes to get “self” out of the way so that I can understand my purpose in His kingdom. With discipline I die to sin. With pruning I die to self and learn surrender. Wisdom teaches that if I say “no” to sin in my life and “yes” to God's pruning in my life then I shall flourish under His divine guidance.
God offers His wisdom so that I might grow spiritually. “If any of you needs wisdom,” James writes, “you should ask God for it. He is generous to everyone and will give you wisdom without criticizing you” (James 1:5, NCV). When I seek wisdom, God gives it generously, and will not criticize me. The fool with a hundred lashes regards his punishment as criticism because he has no wisdom (Proverbs 17:10). He sees it as undeserved. The wise person receives instruction with one warning. He sees his warning as training in character. A man who is foolish regards pruning of self as punishment for sin. A man who is wise understands the difference. A man who is wise understands that both discipline and pruning develop his life for greater purpose. Do I see God's discipline and pruning in my life as criticism or instruction? It is my choice whether I seek His wisdom or settle for less.