Proverbs 23:12 Angry About Improvement

12 Apply your heart to instruction
    and your ears to words of knowledge.

Angry About Improvement

My wife says that I deflect criticism.  The truth is that I don’t welcome it.  I am not that wise.  Today’s criticism was concerning the raising of our son.  Yesterday I talked at length about how passive he is.  He expects things to happen with the minimum of effort on his part.  He will squawk when things don’t go his way without him actively trying to engage the situation.  I was probably just being cathartic in the conversation with our friends, but today it was raised to me that labeling my son as passive (my complaint), or shy (my wife’s complaint) might only validate the behaviours we don’t want.  Secondly, my wife told me that I lecture him too much.  I should just follow through on the consequences of his actions with minimal extra input.  I became defensive and hurt. I was resistant to her input. I was afraid of being dominated and controlled by my wife.  I internalized my fear and anger and became exhausted immediately.  I went back to bed.  Proverbs like the one above started rattling around my head.  “Why couldn’t I listen to instruction from my wife?” “Why was I angry and then exhausted and depressed by correction?”  “Rather than change my actions for the better, why did I want everyone to go away?”

The answer was sin patterns in my life that are deeply rooted.  I have pride and am unable to change easily.  I am afraid of losing control.  I get angry when I associate correction with lack of respect.  I become sad when the goalposts seem to change.  I am sinful.  The proverb above leads once more to the beginning and the end of the road of wisdom.  I have to find more of God so that I am able to listen to correction from whatever source God is able to provide.  I do not need to become wise so that I find God.  I need to find God so that I become wise.


  1. To what should your heart be applied?
  2. To what should your ear listen?
  3. How can we tell that ‘heart’ is more than emotional?
  4. How are we resistant to instruction?
  5. From whom do we gain knowledge?


About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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