Tag Archives: Correction and Discipline

How Are Your Walls?

Proverbs 25:28

“He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.”

City Walls

Most cities today have no walls; they are usually protected from invaders in other ways. But back in the days of Solomon it was common to see a city with large walls built around it for defense. Without those tall, stone walls, much like what we would imagine circling a castle, a city would be completely vulnerable to attack.

English: Building the Wall of Jerusalem; as in...

In the Old Testament we can read of a man named Nehemiah who realized the importance of city walls. When one of his brothers came to visit, he asked how things were going in Jerusalem. That’s when he found out the bad news.

“They said to me, “Things are not going well for those who returned to the province of Judah. They are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem has been torn down, and the gates have been destroyed by fire.” When I heard this, I sat down and wept. In fact, for days I mourned, fasted, and prayed to the God of heaven.” – Nehemiah 1:3-4 NLT

Later, Nehemiah went before King Artaxerxes, the kink in whose court he served, to ask permission to rebuild the wall. His request was graciously accepted, and the king even provided the materials needed for the job. However, none of this would have happened had Nehemiah not realized the humiliating and dangerous predicament Jerusalem was in. They needed walls.

Walls of Discipline

Solomon knew what he was talking about when he wrote this proverb, for he knew about human desire. But, as a king, he also knew about city walls and the need for defense. He recognized the similarity between a defenseless city and the undisciplined, careless soul.

A person who has no control over his desires is like a city that parties away the night without any clue that an invasion is imminent.

He with no rule over his own spirit is like a city full of treasures ready to be plundered.

The one with no self-control invites destruction.

Maybe it is time we share the burden of Nehemiah and repair the broken down walls in our own lives. 


Parental Responsibility

Proverbs 23:15-16 

My son, if thine heart be wise, my heart shall rejoice, even mine. Yea, my reins shall rejoice, when thy lips speak right things.
My son, if your heart is wise, then my heart will be glad indeed; my inmost being will rejoice when your lips speak what is right. (NIV)

My experience of being a parent is that it is a great privilege, although my father may have different opinions on the subject! It is also a huge responsibility. I do not believe that God expects us to parent alone and throughout the lives of our children I have prayed for His help and guidance in parenting. I truly believe that God has shared the responsibility, and I have seen clear evidence of His touch on the lives of the children He has placed in our care

Unfortunately children do not always make wise choices. I remember the day that my father had to collect me from the Police Station when I was fifteen years old. Dad didn’t need to say a word when he walked into the room. Disappointment was written all over his face and it completely destroyed me. Compare that with his pride a year later when he dropped me at the airport in my brand new uniform to fly to Göteborg to join my first ship. It was five months before he saw me again but I knew from the letters he and my mother wrote that they were proud of my career choice.

My wife and I have also known times of disappointment as well as times of great joy in raising our five children. There have been many times when our hearts have been warmed by things our children have said, done, or achieved. Just this last weekend we visited James, our middle child, and stayed in the home he and his fiancée have made. They get married in October. We were impressed by many aspects of their home-making, but even more so by the fact that have chosen to honor God and each other, and not share a bed until after they are married. That, in our opinion and experience, is an excellent basis for a married life built on trust. To me it also underlines the responsibility of example.

It is a parental responsibility to teach wisdom through example. Results may not be guaranteed, but nothing ventured, nothing gained. If we hope to see wisdom shown in the lives and words of our offspring, then we need to make sure that it is evident in ours.


Chasten Thy Son

Proverbs 19:18

“Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying.”

Mouths of Babes

Several years ago, when I was vice president of a local Kiwanis Club, I would go read to young children at a Head Start day care program. These children were around 4 or 5 years of age.

One day I took my two young daughters with me. They observed the unruliness of several children in the class and later commented. Haley, who was only around 5 or 6 herself, asked, “Daddy, why won’t that teacher just spank those kids?”

“Because that’s against the law, Haley. Teachers can’t do that,” I replied.

“Well,” Haley huffed, “those children need a whipp’n, so somebody needs to change the rules!” Out of the mouths of babes, people. Out of the mouths of babes.

Chastening

I know that many of you reading this will disagree, but there is only one way this verse can be interpreted – and it has nothing to do with “time outs” or being grounded. For example, consider these other verses…

“Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.”Proverbs 22:15

“The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.”Proverbs 29:15

“If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?” – Hebrews 12:7

Spanking is something that is frowned on, if not illegal in today’s society. Child psychologists, with all their worldly wisdom (and that’s key), urge parents to never physically discipline their children. Government agencies even control parents with the threat of prosecution. But what is biblical? What is wise?

While There Is Hope

As one who works with children of all ages, I can testify that a lack of discipline is at the root of most unruly behavior. Our school systems are completely helpless in the face of youth who have no fear of punishment.

Solomon says, however, that chastening a child is one way to ensure a better future, even if the child, at the moment, cries out in protest. The great Matthew Henry said, “It is better that he should cry under thy rod than under the sword of the magistrate, or, which is more fearful, that of divine vengeance.”* How many teens are in jail today because parents were to timid to use the “rod of correction?” How many instead have fallen under the “sword of the magistrate?”

While there is hope, learn to say “NO!” While there is still hope, take away the phone and video games. While there is still hope, take away the keys. While there is still hope, don’t buy those designer clothes. While there is still hope, don’t be afraid to chasten.

Be the parent, and chasten when necessary – while there is still hope.

*Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1994), Pr 19:18.


Mercy and Fear

Proverbs 16:6

“By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the LORD men depart from evil.”
“In mercy and truth Atonement is provided for iniquity; And by the fear of the LORD one departs from evil.” (NKJV)

“He Could Break Me”

When I was young I had a healthy fear of my father. Even when I was a teenager, he was half again my size and could break me in two. The last thing I would have ever wanted was for my dad to strike me in anger, or worse, as an enemy. Thankfully, he loved me, especially when he “spared not the rod.”

Yes, my dad knew how to discipline in the old-fashioned way. He did not believe in “time outs.” Never once did he remind me to “make right choices.” If I made a wrong choice I found out about it real quick.

daddyBut the thing that I was most afraid of was not being punished by my dad for doing something stupid, it was breaking his heart. The worst punishment I could ever receive was to see a disappointed look in his eyes. I wanted him to be proud of me. I was more afraid of seeing a tear than getting whacked in the rear.

You see, my dad was a godly man…a simple man…a humble man…a very hard-working man. He worked multiple jobs, once even giving me his pay so that I could have work. He never raised his voice, but he could preach with authority. He was a true pastor, a faithful husband, and a friend to all. He did a lot for me that I will never know.

Proper Motivation

In today’s proverb Solomon speaks of mercy and forgiveness, but then he ends with “fear” being the motivation for correct behavior. What should be noted is that “fear” isn’t the kind of emotion that causes one to run and hide, but it is a profound sense of respect.

When we think of God, we should remember how merciful he has been to us. We should contemplate his goodness and grace. We should remember that He did not have to forgive us, but would have been completely justified to cast us into a burning hell forever, had it not been for Christ. When we remember these things we should fear and “depart from evil.”

But why should we depart from evil? Is it because of a fear that He will destroy us? No, for we are forgiven, if we have been covered in the righteousness of Jesus. We should have a profound respect for what God has done for us, not to us, and that fear should cause us to depart from evil.


A Fool and His “Switch”

Proverbs 14:3

“In the mouth of the foolish is a rod of pride: but the lips of the wise shall preserve them.”
“A fool’s talk brings a rod to his back, but the lips of the wise protect them.” – NIV

Pick Your Own

If the typical Child Protective Services agent of today had been around when I was a wee heathen, my parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents would have been hauled off to jail. My parents, especially my paternal grandmother, would have wound up on the front page of the newspaper. They would have made the evening news on television. The story would have read something like this…

APNews. Mary Baker, the half-Cherokee grandmother of sweet little Anthony Baker, was arrested for gross child abuse, today. Mrs. Baker, widow of the late William Baker (saw mill owner; moonshine runner), was found to have left marks on cute little Anthony’s backside and buttocks with a “hickory switch.”

Left-wing, pot-smoking, tree-hugging, liberal, hippie neighbors who somehow snuck into the neighborhood heard little Anthony screaming bloody murder and went to investigate. They reported seeing darling little Anthony bent over his grandmother’s knee as she mercilessly assaulted him with the large tree branch previously growing in the front yard.

According to the angelic little Anthony, his grandmother, upon hearing him backtalk her, told him to exit the house in order to retrieve said “switch.” When he didn’t return with the prescribed tool of abuse, Mrs. Baker sought him out, hewed down her own tree, then preceded to “wear him out.

Yes, when I was a child, you did not talk disrespectfully to your grandmother. If your mouth was bad enough you might even be made to pick your own tool of discipline – and it was wise to pick a big enough switch the first time.

A Fool’s Talk

Whenever I was about to get into serious trouble, my dad used to say, “Son, you’re cruising for a bruising.” Whenever I talked back (disrespectfully) to my parents, I was in danger of seeing stars (without a telescope). Therefore, it did not take long for me to learn how to control my tongue.

According to this proverb, though, a fool is pictured as having a rod (switch, branch, vine) growing out of his mouth. Because of his pride, the fool never learns from the consequences of his words. Every thing he says seems to come back and beat him.

The one who knows how to keep his mouth shut, however, is much more likely to be able to sit down without pain. At least that’s the way it used to be.

A Note for the Shocked

Please don’t misunderstand today’s proverb, nor my attempt at humor. No one here, especially myself, would advocate abusing a child. Corporal punishment should be administered in love, not anger, and only as a last resort.

The problem is that much of our society promotes “the mouth of the foolish.” Remember, “God is not mocked,” so the fool that runs off at the mouth today is still in danger of suffering from his words – one way or another.


Grow from Instruction

Proverbs 10:17

“He is in the way of life that keepeth instruction: but he that refuseth reproof erreth.”

Customer Service

I worked in some capacity of customer service in the retail world for nearly a decade. I am pretty good at it, because I so enjoy interacting with people.

While the height of customer service is keeping people happy, I must admit to times I did not want to live by that standard (and must confess to not always upholding that standard, but I also know the saying “the customer is always right” was stated by fools!). Yet, I mostly did stick to making customers happy.

As an employee and an employer, I have worked with people of all ages who saw no point in making others happy.

You would think, after being corrected time and again, even being required to do the most mundane (and sometimes humiliating) tasks as punishment, would convince them to change, but no.

You would think losing hours and therefore money would convince them to change, but no.

You would think the threat of losing their jobs would convince them to change, but no.

They did not seem to care about others, or for anything.

Painful Growth

Those of us who persevered and kept our jobs (usually until we moved on to something else!), as I confessed above, had our own share of mistakes and problems. There are two main differences between us and those who refused to listen:

  1. We would not complain about how unfair everything was, but more importantly,
  2. When corrected, we sought to change wrong or ignorant behavior.

Nobody likes to hear they have messed up. Nobody likes to be told they are wrong. It hurts our feelings. It hurts our pride.

But we grow from that experience and pain.

It is the same in our walk with God.

God does not call us to leave behind our desires, our wants, and our sins to hurt us, though it does hurt when we leave them. God call us because He knows that when we persevere through the pain we prove we are truly His.

“Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin. (5) And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: (6) For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. … (11) Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.” – Hebrews 12:4-6, 11

Great God, thank You for Your rebukes and correction. Help us to be obedient, to love Your instruction. Keep us from the foolishness of refusing wisdom and Your will.


Welcome Correction

Proverbs 3:11-12

“My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction: For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.”

 

Correction

I have yet to meet a human being who enjoys being corrected, or disciplined for errors, mistakes, or any form of wrongdoing. I well recall the unpleasantness of discipline exercised by parents and teachers when I was growing up. Physical punishment was the norm at school in my day, and the threat of a visit to the headmaster’s study generally had the desired effect on pupils.

Most of us do not like to imagine God as a Headteacher or Principal with a list of punishments to be levied for misdemeanors. But Scripture teaches that every one of us will one day stand before God and answer to Him for the way in which we have lived our lives (Romans 14:10-12).

Feared, or Welcomed?

Inevitably there will be times during our journey on earth when we will face corrective action from God. The question we must consider is whether correction from God is a form of discipline to be feared, or a process of discipling that is to be welcomed?

While Proverbs teaches that we should fear God, the above verses confirm that if God corrects us it is because He loves us and wants to delight in us as He trains us to be disciples.

Abba Knows Best

The use of the word father in verse 12 is important. The writer is defining the relationship that God desires with those He created. Jesus confirmed that God is a loving Father who delights in His children when He referred to God as ‘Abba’.

If God needs to discipline His children He will. It may not be pleasant, but it is vital if we are to grow into spiritual adulthood. Is that what you desire?

Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly – mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. (1 Corinthians 3:1-2)


Being Broken

Proverbs 26:3

A whip for the horse, a bridle for the ass, and a rod for the fool’s back.

Learning

When I was a young believer, in my late teens, I was hearing about and seeing many people and friends going into the ministry. I began asking, “Are they asked by those in authority, ‘When were you broken?'”

My reasoning was and is simple: we are born with a sinful nature (Romans 1-3). Just like a wild stallion or donkey, we want to do our own thing and not listen to anyone else!

To get these animals to learn, we have to discipline them, break their stubborn spirit (to a point, at least). A horse may need a quick whip or kick to learn to follow our commands to move or turn. A donkey needs a bridle to learn to follow us and eat everything in front of it.

Learning from God

However, God treats us the same way we treat these wild animals.

Just like these great animals a fool keeps going back to the same bad behavior, until he understands the consequences. Whether those consequences come through danger, pain, or incarceration.

To help us get control over our sinful nature, God disciplines us (see Deuteronomy 8, specifically verse 5; Proverbs 3:12; and Hebrews 12).

We want to go our own way, so He has to guide us with limitations. We want to stay where it is comfortable, so He has to kick us into gear. We want to consume so many things that are not good for us (and in abundance!), so He has to remove the possibility of our consuming. Sometimes, He keeps us right where we are to teach us to be content.

He would like us to choose for ourselves, and His directions and discipline help to get us there. They frequently hurt and are uncomfortable, but it is to break our stubborn spirit to get us to listen to Him.

It is because He loves us and wants us to stand with Him in love.

Accept your circumstances as opportunities from God to grow closer to Him, to become more Christ-like.

Heavenly Father, thank You for your discipline and love. Help us to see these opportunities to grow, to learn from them, and to become more like our Lord Jesus Christ!


How Are Your Walls?

Proverbs 25:28

“He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.”

City Walls

Most cities today have no walls; they are usually protected from invaders in other ways. But back in the days of Solomon it was common to see a city with large walls built around it for defense. Without those tall, stone walls, much like what we would imagine circling a castle, a city would be completely vulnerable to attack.

English: Building the Wall of Jerusalem; as in...

In the Old Testament we can read of a man named Nehemiah who realized the importance of city walls. When one of his brothers came to visit, he asked how things were going in Jerusalem. That’s when he found out the bad news.

“They said to me, “Things are not going well for those who returned to the province of Judah. They are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem has been torn down, and the gates have been destroyed by fire.” When I heard this, I sat down and wept. In fact, for days I mourned, fasted, and prayed to the God of heaven.” – Nehemiah 1:3-4 NLT

Later, Nehemiah went before King Artaxerxes, the kink in whose court he served, to ask permission to rebuild the wall. His request was graciously accepted, and the king even provided the materials needed for the job. However, none of this would have happened had Nehemiah not realized the humiliating and dangerous predicament Jerusalem was in. They needed walls.

Walls of Discipline

Solomon knew what he was talking about when he wrote this proverb, for he knew about human desire. But, as a king, he also knew about city walls and the need for defense. He recognized the similarity between a defenseless city and the undisciplined, careless soul.

A person who has no control over his desires is like a city that parties away the night without any clue that an invasion is imminent.

He with no rule over his own spirit is like a city full of treasures ready to be plundered.

The one with no self-control invites destruction.

Maybe it is time we share the burden of Nehemiah and repair the broken down walls in our own lives. 


Chasten Thy Son

Proverbs 19:18

“Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying.”

Mouths of Babes

Several years ago, when I was vice president of a local Kiwanis Club, I would go read to young children at a Head Start day care program. These children were around 4 or 5 years of age.

One day I took my two young daughters with me. They observed the unruliness of several children in the class and later commented. Haley, who was only around 5 or 6 herself, asked, “Daddy, why won’t that teacher just spank those kids?”

“Because that’s against the law, Haley. Teachers can’t do that,” I replied.

“Well,” Haley huffed, “those children need a whipp’n, so somebody needs to change the rules!” Out of the mouths of babes, people. Out of the mouths of babes.

Chastening

I know that many of you reading this will disagree, but there is only one way this verse can be interpreted – and it has nothing to do with “time outs” or being grounded. For example, consider these other verses…

“Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.”Proverbs 22:15

“The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.”Proverbs 29:15

“If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?” – Hebrews 12:7

Spanking is something that is frowned on, if not illegal in today’s society. Child psychologists, with all their worldly wisdom (and that’s key), urge parents to never physically discipline their children. Government agencies even control parents with the threat of prosecution. But what is biblical? What is wise?

While There Is Hope

As one who works with children of all ages, I can testify that a lack of discipline is at the root of most unruly behavior. Our school systems are completely helpless in the face of youth who have no fear of punishment.

Solomon says, however, that chastening a child is one way to ensure a better future, even if the child, at the moment, cries out in protest. The great Matthew Henry said, “It is better that he should cry under thy rod than under the sword of the magistrate, or, which is more fearful, that of divine vengeance.”* How many teens are in jail today because parents were to timid to use the “rod of correction?” How many instead have fallen under the “sword of the magistrate?”

While there is hope, learn to say “NO!” While there is still hope, take away the phone and video games. While there is still hope, take away the keys. While there is still hope, don’t buy those designer clothes. While there is still hope, don’t be afraid to chasten.

Be the parent, and chasten when necessary – while there is still hope.

*Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1994), Pr 19:18.