Proverbs 10:17 (AMP) He who heeds instruction and correction is [not only himself] in the way of life [but also] is a way of life for others. And he who neglects or refuses reproof [not only himself] goes astray [but also] causes to err and is a path toward ruin for others.
I believe there are two distinct messages in this verse. The first regards our response to discipline. There are many people that would have a difficult time with verses like this. Memories of their childhood are painful. Discipline was unjust and at times abusive, creating fear and anxiety. For others correction was measured out justly, most of the time and though unpleasant in the moment, in the end they knew they were loved.
As followers of Jesus, we are His beloved children and as such, God instructs and disciplines us that we can mature in our faith and walk in the joy and peace of unbroken fellowship with Him. The writer of Hebrews compares the discipline of parents to that of God’s. “They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” Hebrews 12:10-11 (NIV)
The second message is that it’s not just about us! How we live our lives can affect others for good or bad. It is deceptive to think otherwise. Paul followed Jesus and he became an example to others. To the Christians in Thessalonica Paul wrote, “you have become an example to all the believers in Greece—throughout both Macedonia and Achaia (Thessalonians 1:6).
The opposite is also true, we can be a bad influence, “He who walks with wise men will be wise, But the companion of fools will suffer harm.” (Proverbs 13:20) Paul wrote “Do not be deceived: Bad company corrupts good morals.” (1 Corinthians 13:33)
Heavenly Father, help me to readily accept your instruction and correction. When corrected, help me to own my actions. I do not want to minimize or cast blame on others to excuse my own faults. Help me to mature in my faith and my love for You. I pray You will work in and through me that I may be an influence for good and bring honor to Your Name! Amen