Today’s word for April 23, 2011

Apply your heart to instruction
and your ears to words of knowledge.
Do not withhold discipline from a child;
if you punish them with the rod, they will not die.
Punish them with the rod
and save them from death.
Proverbs 23:12-14

Oftentimes we find it very difficult to understand one of the tools that allow us some control over our behavior or that of others, mainly because we have a sinful nature that vigorously resists it. We are talking about discipline. No one likes discipline, neither to receive it nor to apply it. When we have to receive it, we focus on the negative side of it, that is, the pain inflicted on us but we ignore the benefits it produces once we have learned its lesson. When it comes to applying it, oftentimes we do it to vent to our anger rather than for the benefit it produces in those whom we are disciplining, usually our children. Whatever the case, we are too clumsy to understand it and accept it. It is even harder for us to apply it with wisdom. The key to understanding discipline is that it must always be accompanied with love for it to be effective. If love is not present when discipline is received there will be grumbling and resentment. If love is not present when discipline is applied, it becomes mere violence and aggression.

The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews explains: “They [our fathers] disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness.” King Solomon himself said it this way: “because the LORD disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.” Whether we are under discipline or we are to receive it, let us understand its loving purpose and let us look ahead with hope to the harvest of righteousness and peace it will bring upon us. To God alone be the glory!

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