“Discipline presupposes the need for a change in living.”
Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – May 1, 2021
If you listen to constructive criticism, you will be at home among the wise. If you reject discipline, you only harm yourself; but if you listen to correction, you grow in understanding. Proverbs 15:31-32 (NLT)
As young children, we come to believe discipline is something to be avoided at all costs, leading only to negative consequences and the loss or limitation of something we love. Rarely is a child able to see the redemptive benefit of discipline, inviting them to turn away from a path of self-assured living and step into the way of humility and self-giving love. In truth, rarely is an adult able to see this either!
Discipline presupposes the need for a change in living. It assumes there are things in your life and mine that are bent and broken, in need of healing and reform. We are not generous with our time or money. We fail to love others as we love ourselves. We believe that sex, money, and power will give us ultimate meaning and significance, and so we run after them with all our strength.
In his mercy, the Lord often speaks in and through trusted advisors in our lives, people who bring constructive criticism that invites you out of your spiritual slumber and into the way of peace. Of course, for it to be constructive criticism, one must actually will your good and approach you with a heart of compassion and love. Similarly, if you find yourself in the place of bringing correction to another, great prayer and discernment is first required to ensure that you bring your observations to them from a heart of tenderness and genuine care.
It is all too easy to dress up a heart of stone and words of harm in pious and even religious language. We may say this is for their good, yet in our heart of hearts we take some degree of pleasure in pointing out the shortcomings or failures of the other. Perhaps their struggles make you feel less guilty about your own, masking for a moment your own sickness in order to highlight their illness. This must not be so!
Whether we are giving or receiving a word of discipline, it must come from a heart of love and is meant to be an extension of the Father’s perfect love for us. True discipline leads to growth. It invites a response of gratitude and a heart that grows in love and obedience to Christ. It helps us to see our own faults, cry out for the mercy of God, and then resolve to amend our way of life and recommit ourselves to the path of peace. Indeed, this is truly good news.
Father, teach us to rejoice in discipline, receiving it as a word of love that invites us deeper into our life with you, we pray through Christ our Lord. Amen.
In what ways have you closed your ears and heart to the corrective word of the Lord, spoken through people who love you and seek your good?
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