November 26

God’s Good Discipline 

“My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.” (Proverbs 3:11-12)

“Peter Pan” was one of my favorite children’s stories. I liked the narrative and characters, the fairies, mermaids, and pirates. The children had the ability and freedom to fly, and have fun, implying that they did not enjoy their “real” life. Of course, the children had to believe they could fly to do so, and I wonder if our world has adopted this idea as a way to succeed. “Whatever you believe you can achieve,” is what I heard in a new age seminar that I attended way back in the 1980s, and that idea seems to have become prevalent in the world today, in rebellion against morality and virtue. After all, Wendy, Michael, and John defied their parents and nanny’s instructions to go to sleep and went with Peter to Neverland instead, causing their parents great fear and anxiety. Maybe the children felt oppressed by their parent’s strong discipline in the story, and that is a danger in some families. But some other prevailing trends regarding discipline include the idea that it is entirely unnecessary, that children will discipline themselves without instruction or authoritative guidance, or that it should be only reward-driven.   

Over the final weeks of the year, I will be examining passages from Proverbs that we haven’t considered in 2018, although we may have seen related themes. This week we’ll revisit the value of God’s discipline. The two verses from Proverbs teach children to accept God’s discipline, since he offers it in love. These verses were written by Solomon to his son (either literal or figurative) but also to us adults for our instruction. Nowhere in commentaries did I find an exclusion for grownups concerning Proverbs’ directives. “And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? ‘My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.’ It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9 Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live?” (Hebrews 12:5-9)

God’s instructions include critical corrections that aren’t intended to harm or anger us. We need encouragement not to rebel against them because embracing reprimands is especially difficult.* I think our military troops are the best-equipped people to receive and apply chastisements, but even they probably experience that sting we all feel when it’s given. I received a speeding ticket for the first time in about thirty years the other day. I accepted the ticket as the right consequence for breaking the law. Even so, there was a small desire to argue and try to get out of it, because that is what my old sin nature always wants to do, worm that I am. “Behold, blessed is the one whom God reproves; therefore despise not the discipline of the Almighty. For he wounds, but he binds up; he shatters, but his hands heal.” (Job 5:17-18)

How do you view God’s correction? Are you willing to consider that God may rebuke or redirect you through His Word as you study and pray?

* TheReformation Study Bible, Proverbs 3:11-12, Reformation Trust Publishing (Ligonier Ministries), Sanford, Fl., 2015. 

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