Are You Stupid?

There’s a word that’s banned in our family. Actually there are lots of words that are disallowed in our home – profanities, rude language, angry vituperation, and the list goes on.

Essentially, that’s what you get when you’ve three boys in the home. Still, my wife, Wendy, hates it when we use the word ‘stupid’ on one another. I agree, we don’t use the word for its literary value, but more as a means to hurt one another.
 
But, guess what, the Bible uses the word ‘stupid’! If you haven’t read Proverbs recently, it’s time to make it one of your regular reads. After all, the whole book is about wisdom and, if there’s something we desperately need in all our lives, it’s more wisdom.

The word actually appears three times in the Bible, and the one time it’s used instructionally is in the Book of Proverbs – specifically Prov 12:1 – ‘Whoever loves instruction loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid.’
 
This verse strikes a chord deep inside me. Let me tell you why.
 
Years ago, I was invited to speak at a church camp. It was a smaller congregation and the meetings were held in a room where I could see every person’s face. Likewise, they were close enough to observe my facial expressions. I had to say, the first day did not go well. I felt like I was not connecting with the congregation. I went back, prayed fervently, re-worked my messages and called in some friends to pray for me. I desperately wanted God to break through into the meetings.
 
The next day, incredibly, the atmosphere in the meeting changed. I preached with passion and felt a much greater sense of connecting with the people. I gave an altar call and almost everyone came forward to respond. I felt a lot better after that.

It was after the close of the meeting that the church pastor came up to me. As he walked up, he had a big smile on his face, and I felt certain that he was going to thank and congratulate me for doing so incredibly well. He pulled up right beside me, leaned in and whispered in my ear, “Your zip is down.”
 
I looked down and, to my horror, my pants zip was indeed wide open! I thanked the pastor for inviting me and made a quick exit. I told Pastor Yang about the incident and with great sympathy, he burst into a loud guffaw. My balloon was thoroughly deflated.
 
For days, I couldn’t shake off the thought of what had happened and, above all, I was embarrassed. I kept thinking as well, ‘Why didn’t someone tell me earlier?’ Then I got to thinking, ‘Are there other areas in my life where my ‘zip’ is down, everyone sees it, but no one’s telling me about it?

Perhaps people are not telling me because they’re afraid to embarrass me? Or maybe they’re uncertain how I’d react to them if they genuinely came forward to correct me? How about those closest to me – my wife and my children? Have they come to a point where they’ve gotten tired of correcting me because I just brush their correction aside? Is every correction that comes my way met with a ‘BUT’ or some other excuse and reason to absolve myself of fault?
 
At that point, I determined that one of the worst things that can happen to any of us is when we become unteachable and un-correctable. It’s when we’ve a glaring flaw that everyone can see, except ourselves. We look in the mirror, but it’s beyond our visible range – it’s in our blind spot. Yet, we won’t allow others to come by and help us see where we’re unable to observe. This is the Biblical definition of ‘STUPID’.
 
Think for a moment – do we have a lump of anger jutting out of our backs that we cannot see? Maybe it’s a stain of insensitivity, a whiff of pride, a gait of ill-discipline? The thing about these blind spots is that they’ve a way of catching up with us. Instead of just raucous laughter, they can ruin our marriage, wreck relationships, and stop us from attaining to the highest that God has for us.
 
I very much want to forget the incident of the opened fly, but somehow we always remember with such vividness the most embarrassing moments of our lives. Funny? Yes. Instructive? Highly.

Don’t be stupid, love correction!


Ps. Lim Lip Yong

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