Article: Disciplined to Discipline | Dr. Leslie Varghese, USA
Proverbs 3:11-12 says “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.” A good father is one who is disciplined and disciplining. What does that mean in practical terms? Let us look at some of the implications which undergird this statement to understand what it takes to be a good father.
One: Every father is also a child.
You are always a child. You have an earthly father. There is something within you and me that tends to rebel against authority. We crave autonomy. We really do not want to keep tipping our hats to our earthly parents and our heavenly Parent. Why not? Because it is humbling. However, the realization of us being children fosters dependence in us, making us more disciplined in life. We are children, dependent upon His mercy, dependent upon His love, and dependent upon His daily provision. We need to remember that.
Two: As fathers who are children, we need continuing wisdom.
Is there any quality that gives more dignity to a father than wisdom? Those of us who acknowledge that we are children of both earthly parents and a heavenly Father are much more readily able to find wisdom than those of us who are boldly proclaiming our autonomy. Wisdom comes only to the person who is humble, who acknowledges his need, and who is willing to bow his knee before a higher sovereign power. Solomon’s father, David had just died. Humble before God, Solomon went to the altar. He took his offerings. In the night God appeared to him and said, “Ask what I shall give you?” Solomon acknowledged God’s love toward his own father, David, and acknowledged the fact that God had made him king in his father’s place. And then Solomon made this request: “Give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may lead this people, for who is able to govern this great people of yours?” (2 Chronicles 1:10). God answered, “Since this is your heart’s desire and you have not asked for wealth, riches, or honor, …. such as no king who was before you ever had and none after you will have” (2 Chronicles 1:11-12).
Three: Wisdom comes through the discipline of our heavenly Father.
God is the source of wisdom. All wisdom ultimately comes from Him and is enabled by Him. One of His key methods to give you wisdom is to do it through discipline. A careful study of the Bible will reveal that discipline is closely associated with two parental practices. The first of these is instruction. This involves training and knowledge. Instruction involves training. Instruction involves practice. Instruction is one part of discipline. God has given us His Word. He instructs us as to what it is to be His person. He describes His game plan. A biblical understanding of discipline will show that combined with instruction is reproof and correction. All through the Bible we see God’s “rod of discipline” in dealing with His people. He takes corrective measures not to crush His children, but to train them in the ways in which they should develop. Part of discipline is what we call “chastisement.” God could leave the training wheels on forever to protect us from the pain of falling down. However, we know what would happen if the training wheels never came off!
Four: God warns against two natural responses to His discipline.
On the one hand, we are warned, “… do not despise the Lord’s discipline….” God urges us not to despise His discipline. Expect it. Realize that a disciplined life will have pain. There will be corrections. Do not snap back at Him. Do not dare Him. Do not refuse to be guided. Open your life to His discipline. Do not despise it. On the other hand, He warns us to “… not resent His rebuke….” The RSV translates this better, urging us to “… not grow weary of His rebuke.” Even as there are those who harden themselves against the Lord, there are those who faint because they have not gone through the process of discipline. They collapse under life’s pressure. They are like the gymnast who dislocated a shoulder or broke an ankle. He gives up, never experiencing the satisfaction of a well-executed routine.
Five: Only a father who delights in a child takes time to give adequate discipline.
The text reads: “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” (Proverbs 3:11-12). God does not practice child abuse. In contrast, God is talking about a loving direction. It is an instruction and reproof which emerges from sensitive and deep care. As fathers, we discipline our children for their betterment. If we spank them in anger, we may damage them physically and emotionally. However, if we correct them in love, the pain they endure transiently will lead them toward a long-lasting blessing in their life. Fathers are expected to delight in their children. However, delighting in a child does not mean spoiling the child by being an uninvolved, permissive parent but by being an authoritative parent who balances limits appropriately with love.
Six: The only person able to adequately discipline is one who lives responsibly under adequate discipline.
A responsible person must be accountable to someone. The father who knows best is subject to a father who knows best. This is a restatement of our basic statement: fathering is never easy. There is no human father who can properly wield authority and who is unwilling to live under authority. A father who knows best is willing to be disciplined by a heavenly Father. He is willing to live under this authority. He is willing to model this before his children. Are you willing? The father who knows best is disciplined and disciplining.