Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – August 6, 2020
But to the wicked God says: ‘What right have you to recite my statutes, or take my covenant on your lips? For you hate discipline, and you cast my words behind you. You make friends with a thief when you see one, and you keep company with adulterers. ‘You give your mouth free rein for evil, and your tongue frames deceit. You sit and speak against your kin; you slander your own mother’s child. These things you have done and I have been silent; you thought that I was one just like yourself. But now I rebuke you, and lay the charge before you. Psalm 50:16-21
For most of my life, especially my early life, to be disciplined meant to be punished. At least, to be fair to my parents, that’s how I viewed their discipline. Likely it was done in love and meant for my good, yet in the moment I simply saw it as punishment inflicted for my disobedience or failure to live by the rules of our household. As such, I never welcomed or wanted their discipline. It was to be avoided at all costs! In the words of the psalmist, I “hated discipline.”
In addition to the Psalms, the book of Proverbs speaks a good deal about discipline. Two verses in particular come to mind. “Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them” (Proverbs 13:24). “A rod and a reprimand impart wisdom, but a child left undisciplined disgraces its mother” (Proverbs 29:15). When read through my childish lens, these verses seem to only confirm my assumption that discipline = punishment. However, now living life on the other side of the discipline relationship as a parent of three young children, punishment in and of itself is never my intention or desire towards my kids.
The most loving thing I can do for my children is to direct them to the source of true love. Discipline, at its best, is an invitation into the life and light of God, not a punitive response to poor decisions. A disciplined life is one that has learned which ways lead to life and which lead to death. As it says elsewhere in Proverbs, “Whoever heeds discipline shows the way to life, but whoever ignores correction leads others astray” (Proverbs 10:17).
While this vision of discipline clearly applies to the parent/child relationship, its application is much broader. Wherever you find yourself in life today, you are invited by the Lord to live a disciplined life. In fact, a true sign of your love for God is your ability to receive his discipline with joy and to believe it is for your good. Furthermore, discipline is not simply something God does to us but is just as much a way of life that we, by faith, choose to walk in.
A disciplined life is a life ordered by and oriented toward the kingdom of God. It is an integrated life that considers, not only what we say, but how we live and what (or whom) we love. In fact, the psalmist is so bold as to say “the wicked” are those who have the words of God on their lips but the ways of the world on their hearts and hands. As St. John reminds us, “Whoever says, ‘I am in the light,’ while hating a brother or sister, is still in the darkness. Whoever loves a brother or sister lives in the light, and in such a person there is no cause for stumbling” (1 John 2:9-10).
Choose today to see the way of the Lord as light that leads you out of the darkness, and may he give us each the faith and courage to lead a disciplined life!
Father, keep us from professing you with our lips yet denying you through our deeds. Instead help us to daily walk in your ways and to discover the joy of a disciplined life, we pray through Christ our Lord. Amen.
How can you choose today to receive the discipline of God as an invitation to live in the freedom and joy of the Lord, rather than as a source of pain or punishment in your life?
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