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 (Prov 3:11-12).
Since becoming a parent, I have become quite interested in discipline. But as a child, I had no use for it – this was not for lack of trying on my father’s part. As I have mentioned before, my dad was a Marine – once a Marine, always a Marine. And me? I was the second born, the baby, of the family. A real charmer. I came after a rule-following, hard-working, high-achieving older sister. Following her was…interesting.
My parents might have wondered if they got a lemon when they got me, after her! The usual methods of discipline just didn’t seem to work on me. I think I may have gotten a spanking every night for three years in a row, for getting into bed late. You would think that at some point I would simply learn how to avoid this difficulty, but…
I can still remember, running up the stairs to bathe and brush teeth in all of 30 seconds, all the while hearing the thundering of my Daddy’s footsteps coming up after me. My family still laughs that I became a dental hygienist who had to recommend that people brush their teeth for longer than I spent on my entire bedtime routine. But I was like, seven or eight, so cut me some slack!
I wasn’t always trying to make trouble…often I just sort of wandered about, until I found myself in it. Deep in it, if you know what I mean.
Thankfully, my parents didn’t give up on me. They stayed the course. And eventually, when life hit me in the head enough, I began to see that they were right. Basically, it came down to something I am very interested in lately: experiential learning.
Experiential learning means that one of the best ways for us to internalize a concept is to live it; this is very biblical:
- Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me put it into practice [hear, and then do]. And the God of peace will be with you (Phil 4:9, NIV).
- Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice [hears them and does them] is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock (Matt 7:24-25, NIV).
Note that “putting into practice” [hearing and doing] what we learn in God’s Word leads to peace. More on that later. Putting God’s Word into practice requires discipline. If we have self-discipline, we can avoid all sorts of difficulties. If we do not, the LORD will discipline us.
And for those who cannot learn to bend their will to His, they get the discipline, but they will never get the peace.
God promises again and again that by living according to His Word we will have peace; this is not necessarily “the good life”. Rather it is peace with Him – this sort of peace is a precious commodity. It is the peace that turns lemons into lemonade! It is the peace that I want my kids to know:
For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace (Romans 8:5-6).