Proverbs 10:17 says, “Whoever heeds instruction is on the path to life, but he who rejects reproof leads others astray” (ESV). Another translation speaks about the one who “heeds discipline” as opposed to the one who “ignores correction.” This verse basically says two things: The person who accepts discipline (correction) will be on the path of life. The person who fights again correction will go astray. Some translations even mention these people leading others astray as well.
No one likes to be told they are doing something wrong. No one likes to face the music and accept correction. But we need to do this to develop into who God created us to be—to grow in character and wisdom. Only with correction are we able to confront our faults and change. Only with discipline are we able to have the opportunity for more, not only for our own lives but to lead by example for others as well.
Many times we like to avoid discipline. From childhood on up, it is a way of life for us. Oftentimes we grumble when our parents punish us. We throw a fit when we lose privileges. We get upset when we are punished. Proverbs 12:1 says, “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but whoever hates correction is stupid” (NIV). That sounds kind of harsh. If we hate correction (discipline) we are stupid? The actual word for stupid means brutish and it relates to the word burn or kindle. It represents a life that has no opportunity to be more, a life that can never become as originally designed. My friends, God’s discipline is helpful. God’s discipline should be welcomed and praised. God’s discipline helps us to continue on the path to life. God’s discipline helps us to lead a godly life to point others to Jesus rather than leading astray. God’s discipline refines us.
When Elisha gathered around with the sons of the prophets, there was a famine. Barrenness, sickness, affliction and famine were seen as judgment from God for sin. As we read again and again, the curse of sin is judgment and death.
These people were in search for food. When they went around to gather something to eat, they gathered wild gourds. From the text, it did not seem that they knew what the food would bring. They simply wanted to fill their need for food. But when they added this unknown item into the stew, it became deadly. They cried out, “There is DEATH IN THE POT.” Elisha had to add flour to the stew for it to become safe to eat.
We often try to add things into our daily lives to fill voids. We are facing a famine – the curse of sin. Through Christ alone the curse is no longer. We grab anything we can to fill our needs; however, we do not always understand what we truly need. Elisha poured flour into the deadly stew. In the same way, we can seek to eat from the Word of God, and become blessed by the “meal” of Christ. Through prayer and God’s Word we are sanctified. In 1 Timothy 4:4-5 we read: “For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude; for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer” (NASB). It doesn’t matter how deadly the stew of your life has become; nothing is too dead for God to raise back to life. He will repair. He will revive. He will restore. He will redeem.
“One of them went out into the field to gather herbs, and found a wild vine and gathered from it his lap full of wild gourds, and came and cut them up into the pot of stew, not knowing what they were. And they poured out some for the men to eat. But while they were eating of the stew, they cried out, ‘O man of God, there is death in the pot!’ And they could not eat it.” – 2 Kings 4:39-40 [ESV]
Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit. They went against what the Lord commanded. They were deceived by the serpent and sin entered the world. Things were no longer the same. The serpent, who was “more crafty than any other,” got the couple to question, “Did God really say?” Suddenly they realized their nakedness and hid from the Lord.
With sin comes punishment. The Lord punished man, woman and the serpent. As we continue reading though, the Bible says that God made clothing for Adam and Eve. Despite what they had done, despite how they had disobeyed, God had mercy for them.
God is rich mercy. Paul wrote to the church of Ephesus: “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved – and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (2:4-7 ESV). He made garments of mercy for Adam and Eve long ago, and He continued to pour out His mercy by wrapping us in garments of mercy through Christ Jesus.
“And the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.” – Genesis 3:21 [ESV]
God made man from the dirt. It is something that we do not consider very often. We read about it in Genesis and we might hear during a funeral service that to dust we shall return. I think it is fair to say that most people do not consider these facts on a day-to-day basis but it is important to recognize both.
When Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden, they were both tossed out and today’s passage says they were then left “to work the ground, the SAME DIRT out of which they’d been made.” It was not God’s intention. God walked with Adam and Eve. They had a special relationship, a beautiful relationship. This relationship was broken when sin entered the world. By God’s grace we are able to have that relationship restored.
Today consider this same dirt—but more importantly—consider the grace of God. He may command us to work the dirt from which we come but then one day we return home. We do not need return to the same dirt forever. He has something more for us—eternal life with Him.
“So God expelled them from the Garden of Eden and sent them to work the ground, the same dirt out of which they’d been made. He threw them out of the garden and stationed angel-cherubim and a revolving sword of fire east of it, guarding the path to the Tree-of-Life.”
– Genesis 3:23-24 [MSG]
Elijah came on the scene with no introduction and announced the Word of God. He told the people there would be no rain, upholding what was said in Deuteronomy 28:24 for those in disobedience. Ravens brought him food and when the brook dried up, he went to the widow of Zarephath and God provided.
Elijah then had a showdown with the prophets of Baal. As Elijah watched, the prophets could not get Baal to produce fire. Elijah poured 12 jars of water in a trench and God produced fire that drank up all of the water and burned the surrounding stones. It was an amazing display of God’s power, but then Elijah ran in fear and hid himself in a cave.
God approached Elijah and asked him – What are you doing here? There was incredible wind, an earthquake and fire but God was not in any of them. Then came a gentle whisper. Elijah was reminded of God’s greatness. There are moments when we need to be reminded of God’s greatness – when fear and doubt creep in and try to discourage us. Today, ask yourself how great is our God? How great is our God! Step out of the cave.
“When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’” – 1 Kings 19:13 [NIV]
I do not like the taste of grapefruit; however, I read many articles claiming that it would be beneficial for my health so I decided to start drinking grapefruit juice daily. The problem is that I cannot stand the taste. The first time I had some of the juice, I could not even force it down; it made me sick just tasting a sip of the juice. But I knew that it would be beneficial to me so I continued to drink it daily and still have a glass every morning.
Something that leaves a bitter taste in most mouths is discipline. People don’t generally like to be disciplined. Who wants to get a write-up at work for being late? What child wants to be grounded? Yet discipline can help us to grow as well as to correct our behavior. Discipline is for a reason. Discipline is for our best. Yet we have become a society against discipline. People are able to buy themselves out of a punishment. Children are un-grounded thirty minutes later because a parent “feels bad,” doesn’t want the child to get a complex or doesn’t feel like taking the time to enforce the punishment.
It is no different when it comes to the Lord’s discipline. We do not like discipline. We complain about our circumstances. There are situations we go through that are to help us to be holy as God has called us to be as His children, and we don’t recognize the discipline or don’t wish to accept the discipline. Proverbs 3:11-12 states: “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” (NIV). God loves you so much that He doesn’t want you to be living in sin. He set you apart for a reason. You can choose to ignore or you can choose to submit. Submission will lead you toward the goodness, to holiness, to life.
Read Psalm 39 and see how David reacts to discipline.
“Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! They 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. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”
– Hebrews 12: 7-11 [NIV]
At times we slip up and end up having to face the music. I would say it is usually not fun; however, it is a part of life. When you make a mistake, make the wrong decision, go against the rules, etc., there are consequences. This morning my daughter didn’t want to school, because she knew she would have to face the consequences of forgetting her homework at school. She understood she deserved the punishment for missing her homework, but she didn’t want to face the hardship of the punishment.
I have taken notice to a lot of parents who try to keep their children from punishment and discipline. I use the word “discipline” also because punishment is given to those for justice of wrongdoing, but discipline is training that will help correct and perfect a person. I have heard a parent say, “Well I feel bad for him.” It is okay to empathize about the situation, because we have all had to undergo consequences; however, we cannot try to teach them to avoid the consequences. We cannot tell them ways to get around facing the music.
In the Bible, we have a lot of promises of blessing and of love. We can read some verses standing alone and feel like we are basking in the love of the Father and the world is ours. But if the Bible is read closely, there is another side that people like to leave out of the equation. There is punishment and discipline in life. There are consequences. Our consequence for sin is separation from God. We have redemption through the blood of Christ; however, it doesn’t give us a free pass to go on sinning, nor does it change the fact that there are consequences for our actions. We are not perfect either, and so we need discipline to help make us a better person.
Today, maybe you have some consequences that you need to face for your actions. Perhaps you have been putting off being honest because you do not want to face what comes next. Or maybe you are a parent and you try to shield your child from facing punishment. Please know that if you “protect” your child from punishment, then you are saying that their actions are okay. You are teaching the child that they do not deserve the punishment.
My daughter went to school today without her homework. She will be stuck serving time instead of enjoying recess. It will help her to understand that she needs to remember to do her homework. We all make mistakes and misjudgments; we all face the consequences. Nonetheless, if you are honest about your shortcomings and you face the music, you experience personal growth and you become a better person. You may not see it at first, but understand that God loves you and He wants the very best for you.
“For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.”
– Hebrews 12:10-11 [NASB]