Friday, October 21, 2022

The Love In God's Discipline (Proverbs 3:11-12)


“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, ESV‬‬]

When I was a child, I remember being angry with my parents whenever they punished me. "It is not fair for them to punish me!", I would say. At the time, I believed what I said. However, as I have matured and been able to understand my parents more, I have come to agree with them on the vast majority of their decisions. I look back on my childhood, I remember what I felt when I was being punished for doing something that I should not have done, and I remember how I chose to voice my feelings. I have to give my parents credit for their patience. I was never a difficult child (as far as I know), but I had my bad moments. Those moments became more common during the first half of my teenage years, but became less common as I entered adulthood. I am still young, yet I have already seen how the way that my parents disciplined me when I was a child led to improvements in my character. Discipline has also instilled values in me that have stuck with me to this day. Chief among the benefits that have come as a result of being disciplined as a child is my humility. My humility has really made me better than other adults, and I have even won state competitions for my humility. No matter how often I win those competitions (which, to be fair, happens all the time), I make sure that I tell everybody that my humility is what allowed me to beat everybody else. The only thing that I hate more than arrogance is irony. I digress.

I have seen the way that my life has been positively impacted by my parents disciplining me. As I see the effects of having been disciplined, I grow in my love for my parents, my appreciation for them, and my admiration of them. That being said, my parents are not perfect. While the number of punishments I have received without deserving them are so few that I could count them on my hands, they confirm what I suspected as a child: my parents are not perfect.

My parents, despite being better than I am, are not perfect. One of the most difficult parts of becoming an adult is realizing that one's parents are flawed.

Why do I mention my parents? Well, if I love and admire my parents more for the way that they disciplined me as a child, how much more should I admire God for His discipline! The difference between my earthly father's discipline and my Heavenly Father's discipline is that my Heavenly Father is perfect, and He is just. His discipline is always right, always suiting the behavior that it addresses, and always leads to blessings in my life.

In response to the people who have wondered how God could love them if He allowed for such and such a thing to take place, I present to you Proverbs 3:11-12:

My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline or be weary of his reproof,...

To address us as sons is to show us that we are cared for, and that we are not just pawns of the Almighty God. God cares for each of us, and He thinks of us as His children. He is our Father, and we are His children. This passage is not spoken by God, but it is inspired by God, so it is not a stretch to see "my son" as an endearing way of referring to each of us. Also, just because the passage is directed towards a son does not mean that women are not included. God made humans in His Image. From dust, God created man. From man, God created woman. Men and women are equally valuable to God, so we should not think that a verse is only for men if it is addressed to a male. There are certainly verses that are targeted toward men or women, respectively. However, the passage we are looking at is not one that only men should obey.

We are told not to despise the Lord's discipline. "Despise" is a fairly strong word to use, but the word is used intentionally. To despise something is to intensely dislike it. The NLT uses the word "reject", in place of "despise". Whenever the Bible contains a word or phrase that is confusing, one of the best things to do is to compare translations. While rejecting something would be different from despising it, the two words go together. By despising the Lord's discipline, we reject it. By rejecting it, we forsake the blessings that God gives us as we seek Him and His instruction.

Furthermore, we must not be "weary" of God's reproof. The word "weary" is not synonymous with the word "despise". While "despise" is a strong word to use, "weary" is not. To be weary is to be indifferent to, to be bored of, or to disregard God's reproof. As for why we should not despise, nor grow weary of, God's correction and discipline, the second half of this passage explains.

…for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.

When God reproves us, rather than concluding that He must hate us, we should understand that God reproves us because He loves us. This love for us is compared to a father correcting a son. Why would a father bother to correct his son if the father did not care about the son? Why would a father go through the trouble of enforcing a punishment, or even the stress of having to reprimand a child, if the father did not love his child? Why would God bother to show us the right way to live if He did not love us? If God did not love us, He would not care what happens to us, how we live, or whether we ever have a relationship with Him. The fact that God corrects us is proof that He loves us. God could wipe the world away and make a new world, yet He chose to send His Son to die for us, so that we can have eternal life. Most people would hesitate to take a hard pinch for a neighbor, yet Jesus chose to die for us, despite how He had been rejected and persecuted by the very people that He died to save. God loves each and every one of us, His love is greater than any word could describe, and greater than the brightest mind could ever comprehend.

I pray that this passage has helped you see God's love for you in a new way, and I pray that you can rejoice in God and His righteousness. He cares about you, and He wants to be closer to you. If you have not made the decision to follow Christ, I would encourage you to make that decision now. It is the best decision that you will ever make, and you will know what it is like to have a relationship with the Creator. May God bless you.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Introduction (Philemon)

It may seem strange that I would bother writing about Philemon, considering its brevity, as well as its apparent lack of meaning. I have r...