January 1, 2016

Prov 3:11-12 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.

I am actually more familiar with this passage from where it is quoted in Hebrews 12:5-6, which is of course quoting the Septuagint translation of this. In any case it is a vitally important truth, both for our relationship with God and for human parenting. Our response to discipline, either God’s or our human father’s, governs a great deal of how we turn out in life. Some human parents fail miserably in their interaction with their children, even to the point of their children dy­ing from either abuse or neglect. I read of such a case just yesterday. However, those are mercifully in the minority, and our heavenly Fa­ther will never either abuse or neglect us. Even in extreme cases, though, the response of the child has a greater impact on the long-term effects than the action itself. Especially in relation to God, if we respond with humility and repentance, correcting our behavior, our emotional and spiritual growth will be rapid and we will enjoy the best He has to offer us. However, if we respond with resentment and rebellion, we will experience a never-ending sequence of discipline until we decide to change. Actually, the scariest situation is when God takes His hands off, because that means we have consigned our­selves to hell. (Hebrews 6:4-6) When God checks us and exposes our sin we should be deeply grateful, because it means that He loves us and hasn’t given up on us. That’s what this passage is saying.

I am very grateful to be aware that God continues to discipline me as I need it. As a parent and as a pastor I am aware that my own ap­plication of discipline has been far from perfect. Since my daughters are in their 40s now they are pretty much out of that category, but as a pastor I am often in situations of needing to apply appropriate dis­cipline. Sometimes I do it well, sometimes not so well, and some­times I fail to do it at all, and that generally produces the worst re­sults. I am to seek God’s wisdom in applying discipline and I am to pray God’s grace for those who receive it, that they may respond well and receive the benefit as well as the momentary discomfort. I am always to speak the truth in love, or I will benefit no one. However, I am not to remain silent out of a fear of people’s response, because that is loving me more than loving them, and I am commanded to love them as I love myself. (Matthew 22:39)

Father, thank You for Your faithful discipline. Thank You for not giving up on me through the years, and that I can rest assured You won’t give up on me even now. I ask for courage and wisdom to be the spiritual father You want me to be. At times it is very difficult, but there too I recognize that You are growing me even as You are growing them. Help us all grow in Your love and grace, so that together we may be the children, the family, that You desire, for our blessing and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!


About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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