Several years ago, while driving through Minnesota, I came across a billboard for a dental office that offered “Lecture-free Dentistry.” Underneath those three words was a slogan regarding this lecture-free dental office. My first thought was “there is no way I am going there!” I don’t know what your experiences with the dental office are, but the only lectures I have ever received are ones that go something like, “you need to stop drinking soda because the sugar and acid will rot your teeth” or “floss more often because it will help prevent cavities and gum disease.”
Being told many years ago that my oral hygiene habits and beverage choices were the cause of cavities made me a little uncomfortable. Perhaps there was the feeling as though the dental staff were judging me because I had some cavities or didn’t floss well enough. But I am thankful for them. Had I not received, “the lecture”, I would have continued to endure cavities to this day, with all the horrible experiences that go along with them…a drill that feels like a jackhammer in my mouth and day-long episode of having most of my facial expressions unavailable to me. I would much rather someone lecture me on my poor habits and in the end save me a good amount of pain and suffering.
The same principles often applies to people (especially Christians) and their sin and foolishness. The very thought that someone would have the nerve to tell us that we are acting foolishly or immorally easily causes pride and defensiveness to spring up from the deepest recesses of our hearts. I do not enjoy it very much when my wife confronts me about something I have done wrong or a sinful attitude I have towards someone. But rather than respond in an arrogant defensive manner, I should respond out of grace, not only because she deserves grace as my wife and a human being, but because ultimately she is trying to help. Her “lectures” keep from encountering long-term pain and suffering brought on by my sin.
I would not want to visit a lecture-free dentist…and neither would I want a lecture-free life!
Solomon, in Proverbs 1:7, 24-27, says “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction…Because I have called and you refused to listen, have stretched out my hand and no one has heeded, because you have ignored all my counsel and would have none of my reproof, I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when terror strikes you, when terror strikes you like a storm and your calamity comes like a whirlwind, when distress and anguish come upon you.
Only fools despise wisdom and instruction. Those who ignore wise counsel and corrective reproof will only live to encounter terror and calamity.
Don’t avoid the hard conversations where people confront you about your sin and foolishness. Don’t be someone who is unwilling to open your heart to “the lecture.” Rather allow God to use people and His Word to transform your heart and mind. Let us throw off the sin which so easily entangles us and run the race to win the prize so that we might experience God and share in His life, righteousness and holiness (Hebrews 12:1,10; paraphrased).