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Proverb 13: 18

Poverty and shame will come to him who neglects discipline but he who regards reproof will be honored.

This is a difficult verse and certainly for the maturing Christian rather than cultural Christians. Cultural Christian is my term for people who are Christians but who are not pursuing spiritual growth. We might call them passive Christians. This is not a passage for them because this one causes one to look introspectively. 

The word which is translated here as discipline can also be translated as instruction. So the honored among us are those who do not neglect instruction and correction. No one likes being corrected. Few will even stand instruction but for those who are masters of their egos rather than a slave to it there is honor and promotion. So, let us all look inwardly for a moment? From whom do I receive instruction? To whom am I submitted? Christians are expected to receive daily instruction. I think that can be seen in the number of devotionals which are available. Of course the master instructor is the Holy Spirit and we should all be tuned in to his daily program but let us not deceive ourselves. The Holy Spirit also uses people for his purposes.

First of all, not everyone is sensitive and listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit and some are just better receptors than others. Secondly, he employs people in every area of expertise to speak his wisdom. So each one of us should first of all submit ourselves to the Holy Spirit and take our direction from him rather than being our own leader. Second, we are deceiving ourselves if we think that we are not supposed to submit to human leaders. To think we should lead our own parade is just the voice of ego. You may be the leader of hundreds or even thousands but you should also have someone from whom you receive instruction and if need be, correction. 

The other side of the coin is, don’t follow someone who isn’t also a follower. We are all at various stages in the journey. Make sure that the person you are following is still travelling; a stagnate person can only lead you to stagnation. We should all be growing in the things of God. None of us has yet arrived but like Paul said, we press on to that high calling. If you want to follow that high calling you should submit yourself to another’s leadership and make sure that person is also submitted. Then we are all receiving instruction and growing the result of which is the unveiling of the mystery which is in Christ Jesus.

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