Around Christmas the Lord challenged me to read through Proverbs. There are 31 chapters in this particular book of the Bible, which makes for a natural timeline of one month to complete it. I have been mostly faithful in reading a chapter a day and blown away by how many verses I want to commit to memory and pass on to any children in my life. At first I limited myself to one verse out of each chapter, but due to the rich material I am left with meditating on a chapter a day with intentions to go through it again and again. For one verse per chapter is not sufficient for life change.
There have been several themes that have stuck out to me through reading. The most popular and well-known theme is wisdom, another I’m seeing is laziness or too much sleep, adultery, words, and what I’d like to mull over with you today, discipline.
Proverbs 12:1 says, “To learn, you must love discipline” (NLT). Discipline. One of the most unpopular words of today I am sure. Who actually believes there is a positive connotation to be had? Children definitely do not regard “discipline” as a positive thing. Most adults when hearing “discipline” probably jump to the work place or church or the court system. Oddly enough while almost everywhere you turn in this world discipline is negative in Scripture it is booming with positive energy.
Discipline shows up in Proverbs in more places than in chapter 12:
- “Fools despise wisdom and discipline.” (Pr. 1:7)
- “My child, don’t reject the Lord’s discipline, and don’t be upset when He corrects you. For the Lord corrects those He loves, just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights.” (Pr. 3:11)
- “Corrective discipline is the way to life.” (Pr. 6:23)
- “People who accept discipline are on the pathway to life, but those who ignore correction will go astray.” (Pr. 10:17)
- “If you reject discipline, you only harm yourself; but if you listen to correction, you grow in understanding.” (Pr. 15:32)
I could go on, but you get the point. There are clear benefits to discipline. After reading these verses few could argue for a negative connotation. As I mull over what discipline actually means I think of parenting and personal self-control. Proverbs is very clear on the role of discipline towards children for parents:
- “Those who love their children care enough to discipline them.” (Pr. 13:24)
- “Only a fool despises a parent’s discipline; whoever learns from correction is wise.” (Pr.15: 5)
- “Discipline your child while there is hope. Otherwise you will ruin their lives.” (Pr. 19:18)
- “Don’t fail to discipline your children. They won’t die if you spank them.” (Pr. 23:13, NLT)
- “Discipline your children, and they will give you peace of mind and will make your heart glad.” (Pr. 29:17)
Scripture is clear that children need correction, guidance and discipline. They do not know any better. What they learn will come mostly from you, their parents. Do not fail them in this area. God is clear; discipline brings life.
Another way I read “discipline” in chapter 12:1 is personal discipline and self-control. Scripture is also very clear on the value of personal discipline:
- “A little extra sleep, a little more slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest - then poverty will pounce on you like a bandit; scarcity will attack you like an armed robber.” (Pr. 6:10-11)
- “Those who listen to instruction will prosper…better to have self-control than to conquer a city.” (Pr. 16:20, 33)
- “A person without self-control is like a city with broken-down walls.” (Pr. 25:28)
When reading through Proverbs and coming across verse after verse about discipline one is left with no other conclusion than to see discipline as something worth longing for.
As parents whether you spank or set boundaries the point is the same, children need discipline, correction and instruction. As adults who love the Lord we too need His discipline, correction and instruction because as much as we are adults in this world we are still the Creator’s children. (I John 3:1) The Bible tells us the Lord disciplines those He loves. (Hebrews 12:6) We know as parents and as those who know the Lord discipline is, indeed, an act of love. It is not a negative consequence per se. Discipline is the foundation to a good life. As parents we want to give that to our children. As God, He wants to give that to us. Whether it feels like it or not at the moment, correction, no matter how painful, is to correct in hopes of better living.
What I’ve been learning in my pathetic attempts at self-control and personal discipline in my day is that I am weak and need to live out of my weakness in order for God’s strength to prevail in my life. 2 Corinthians 12:9 quotes Jesus as saying “My power works best in weakness.” (NLT) The fact is no matter how focused I am in the morning, no matter how many lists I have, no matter how many timers I set to keep me on task, I am not capable of disciplining myself. I am not capable of controlling my anger. I am not capable of knowing how to instruct or correct the children in my life. Through reading about discipline and its importance I am struck yet again at our utter dependence on God for His wisdom, mercy and direction. I go before the Lord to plea for His help:
Lord, discipline me. Correct me. Instruct me. I am too weak to do it for myself. I am too weak to discipline the children in my life in a way that pleases you. I see my weaknesses. I show them to you. I ask that you now would work through it in order to me bring life through your discipline. Thank you for your Word. Thank you for the wisdom of Proverbs. May your biblical wisdom stay with me. May I be a disciplined person. May I have life abundant.