Proverbs 29:19 A servant cannot be corrected by mere words;
though he understands, he will not respond.
I think I can say with confidence that I’ve never written on this verse before, or even underlined it! I daresay that in the original context it was advocating physical abuse of servants, and that is at the very least out of place today. However, as I read it just now, I feel the Lord was speaking to me a truth that is important especially for me, and that is that words alone are seldom sufficient to get the message across. More than just lectures, we need training, and often, physical correction. This is especially evident with young children, who might seem to understand what is being said to them but turn out to have an entirely different interpretation than what was intended. On top of that, young children are also more open about the rebellion that seems to be deeply implanted in the human psyche. As adults, we may understand what God wants of us but not want to do it anyway. With little children and their parents that can seem cute to bystanders (though not to the parents) but it is far more serious between us and God. God is incredibly patient and He gives us repeated opportunities to learn the lessons we need, but sometimes time runs out, and that is tragic. We need to listen to God with obedient hearts, allowing Him to walk us through the truth He is speaking to us, so that it will be more than just theory, but living reality in our lives.
As someone with Teacher gifting I tend to dump truth on people and expect that to be sufficient, and it seldom is. Just as this verse says, even when they understand what I’m saying, there’s no response. When I’m speaking God’s truth, that’s a shame! I am certainly not to run around with a whip, but I am to take people by the hand and walk them through what God is saying. On the wall beside my devotion / sermon workstation here I have a paper titled, Preaching to Change Lives. It is from a seminar I attended let by Mark Conner of Australia, and that one seminar did me more good that the Preaching class I took in seminary. One of the last points on the outline says, “Be practical – application is the primary purpose. Knowledge alone doesn’t change people. The Great Commission says, ‘Teach them to do all that I have commanded you,’ e.g. how to pray.” Having it beside me doesn’t mean I always pay attention to it! This year I really need to focus on Ephesians 4:12, preparing God’s people for works of service, so that we will be more of an active organism, rather than me doing most of it and nobody else growing much. That’s going to take some real changes on my part. Just doing it myself is often the easier course! However, easier is often not better, and I must not be lazy.
Father, thank You for this Word. And may I say, ouch. Help me be fully intentional in training, not just telling, so that the believers may be built up as You intend, to be true disciples and witnesses indeed, just as Jesus instructed us, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!