Thursday, December 6, 2012

Proverbs 3:11-12 Thanks! I Needed That!

My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline

    and do not resent his rebuke,  
because the Lord disciplines those he loves,

    as a father the son he delights in. (Proverbs 3:11-12)

When I speak with the parents of my students at Back to School Night each year, I always ask them to stop rescuing their children from consequences. If a child leaves his homework on the kitchen table, don’t rush to school with it so he won’t get marked down. If students lose points for failing to have their work, a minor consequence, they will most likely not forget the next time. Feeling consistent discipline in small things when they are little, is much more likely to prevent bigger consequences when they are teenagers.

Disciplining our children is our responsibility as parents, because it benefits them! It turns them away from bad behavior. When we take that responsibility seriously and do the hard work of shaping our children, it shows that we love them.

Today’s verses in Proverbs tell us that we should understand that when God disciplines us it’s for our benefit, as well. It’s because He “delights” in us that He disciplines us when we fall into sin. In fact, Hebrews 12:18 tells us that if we are not being disciplined, we aren’t God’s true sons!

We should want our children to get caught in their sin. In fact, I’ve prayed that for my daughters and my grandchildren since they were little. And we, too, should want to get caught! It’s only by having our sin discovered that we will see and feel the need to repent. And God promises that our sins will find us out (Numbers 32:33). As long as we feel no consequences for our sin, as long as we think we are getting away with our behaviors, we may not feel the need to repent. But when the conviction of the Holy Spirit comes upon us, when we feel the blow to the gut as we read His Word that exposes our sin, or when the dear sister, who holds us accountable, lovingly points out our sin, we are moved to repent and turn away from it.

It is NOT fun to discipline! It’s the hardest part of parenting! But, because it is our job to prepare our children to honor God, and because it is our heart’s desire that they be successful in His eyes, we need to do what it takes. We cannot ignore bad behaviors. We have all been in public and seen a child being a downright brat. And we’ve seen the parent that ignores the behavior - either because it’s inconvenient to pay attention because they have important texting to do, or because they just want to placate the child. Ignoring the behavior and letting the child get away with it just reinforces the bad behavior, and you eventually raise a child that no one wants to be around!

Sometimes we ignore bad behaviors in the church, as well. Paul, dealing with just such problems within the church at Corinth, exhorted the believers to be harsh in their discipline in order to save the soul of the offender:

... hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord... But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat. (1 Corinthians 5:5 & 11)

Paul later admonished them to lighten up, because they apparently forgot that the goal was restoration: 

If anyone has caused grief, he has not so much grieved me as he has grieved all of you, to some extent—not to put it too severely.  The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient for him.  Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow.  I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him. (2 Corinthians 2:5-8)

Paul also warned that we not be so easy with a fallen brother that we fall in with him:

Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. (Galataians 6:1)

Yep, discipline is a tricky thing! But whether we are on the giving end or the receiving end, we can be assured that God’s goal for us is to be complete and mature. He wants only the best for us, because He is our Abba Father! So, let’s not despise the Lord’s discipline; it’s a reminder that He delights in us!

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