Love Discipline

Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge,

    but he who hates reproof is stupid.

Proverbs 12:1 (ESV)

One of the things I love about Solomon’s proverbs is the fact he doesn’t mince his words! There’s a place for diplomacy and sensitivity, but sometimes there’s a need for stark warning.

Loves Discipline

The other day, my three year old threw a toy across the room. When I told her not to, she got rather cross and took a swing at me with all her might. I took it on the chin (not literally) but sent her to the “naughty spot” in our house. It is fair to say she did not “love” discipline in that moment!

How many of us can truly say that we do love discipline? When my boss calls me in to their office (virtual or otherwise) to point out something I need to change, I hardly relish the experience! Yet, as I’ve gotten to know my boss over the years, I know that they have my best interests at heart and anything they correct me on is for my benefit. By “loving” the discipline, I’m growing and improving.

Discipline is tough in the moment, and far too few of us later reflect on that correction and realise its value. Church discipline, for instance, often leads to people walking out of the church, not gratitude to the pastor or minister for loving them enough to say something.

We cannot hope to grow as Christians without the love of discipline. I learn from others who teach me, and from those who love me enough to say something when I go wrong. If no one ever pointed it out, I might never come to the realisation on my own.

Discipline works best when it comes from a safe and loving relationship. My wife can point out my faults to me in a way a total stranger never could. I trust her judgement and know she wants what’s best for me. The same can’t be said for a person I do not know well.

God knows us best, and we must trust in His deep, unending love for us. When He disciplines us, it’s because He loves us and does not want us to stay stuck in a place of error.

Hates Reproof

The Proverbs often mirror themselves. So, if you are wise to do one thing, then you are stupid to do the reverse. We see this here. If it is wise to love discipline, then it is stupid to hate correction.

To hate discipline is really to hate ourselves. It suggests that we have a level of pride where we think we couldn’t possibly be wrong.

Often when correction comes, we react badly to it. We point to the one disciplining us, and say “What about when you…?” Discipline does indeed hurt at times, but it is a pain which leads to something better. I once heard someone say that you can go through the pain of change, or go through the pain of staying just as you are.

Do not hate discipline, nor the one who brings it to you. While you may feel too excited about it, take the time to thank the person and bring it before God. If, for instance, that person does not really have good intentions, then you can lay that before Jesus and let the Spirit lead you.

Discipline in general, but church discipline in particular, does seem to be becoming more and more rare these days. I wonder why this is? There is truth to it that many church members are easily offended, and would storm out if a church leader even dared breath a word of correction near them. This, of course, does put church leaders off of doing it.

Also though, I wonder if all of us have somehow lost a level of holiness in our own eyes. As I consider this, I realise that bringing discipline makes me take long look at myself, and highlights the areas where I fall short. If I make so many mistakes, then how dare I tell others what they should and should not do?

Iron sharpens iron though, and only by living and worshipping together can we ever hope to support each other. I need you to tell me when I am going wrong, and likewise you need me to do the same for you. Let us love each other enough, and be brave enough, to help one another grow.

Is God bringing discipline into your life right now? Is He using a friend or family member to do it? Is He prompting you to speak a word into someone else’s life? Do so with humility, and love them as best you can.

Justice (Audio)

Andy shares about the subject of justice, and considers one of the Proverbs given below.

Condemning the innocent or letting the wicked go—both are hateful to the Lord.

Proverbs 17:15 (GNT)

This audio will also be uploaded to the podcast feed for those who prefer to listen to it there. You can find the podcast “The Andy Brown Podcast” on all good podcasting apps, including Spotify and Apple Podcasts.

It’s Not Really Stealing…

The Lord hates people who use dishonest scales. He is happy with honest weights.

Proverbs 11:1 (GNT)

Some people accuse the Bible of no longer being relevant to life in the 21st Century. I totally disagree with this! Never more has the Bible been more relevant than right now.

As I sat down to write this morning, I really wasn’t sure what I was going to talk about. Usually when this happens, I start to read the Proverbs as they are so rich with life lessons and wisdom. I did not have to read for long today before I felt this verse was important to discuss.

I am working from home at the moment due to the COVID-19 virus. While our office is technically open, nearly all employees are able to log in from home and do their daily work from there.

I thank God for my employer who has been extremely supportive during this time. They have been more than understanding about how we do our work while balancing caring responsibilities.

We all had a chuckle the other day as a colleague’s young child burst into the room where he was conducted a teleconference and shouted, “Daddy, I’ve done a poo!” before he could trigger the mute button!

So what does any of this have to do with this verse from Proverbs? I can’t recall the last time I saw a set of balance scales, let alone used one. I certainly have never used one in my working life…

In context, this verse is about being honest. If you imagine people selling goods by weight in a market, then you will start to get an idea of what this is about. A customer would ask for a pound of whatever product they were buying. The seller would use their balance to weigh it out. You would have the product on one side, and the weight on the other. When they balanced, you knew you had the right amount.

The problem with this system was that dishonest sellers would use weights which weren’t quite true. They may be marked as a pound weight, but actually be slightly less. The result was that the customer was cheated and did not get what they paid for.

This happened to me once. I bought a bulk pack of coffee beans. I ordered one kilogram, but when it arrived I weighed it. The package only contained around 900g of coffee, and so was 10% short. When I complained, I was told the weighing machine they used had a certain tolerance or error margin. Some customers may get less than a kilo, while others slightly more.

Perhaps this was true. Perhaps I was just an unfortunate customer who got slightly less, while someone else a little more. I choose to give them the benefit of the doubt – but isn’t it funny how it so rarely works out in our favour?

Again, you might be thinking what does this have to do with anything?

The point of the proverb is that we are to be honest in our dealings. If we are selling something for a particular weight, then it should actually weigh that much. It is about integrity.

For someone like me who works in an office role, I rarely interact with customers nor do I sell a particular product. But the principles can still be applied.

If I am paid to start work at 9am, but don’t arrive until 9.10 then I am using an unjust balance – that is, I’m stealing that 10 minutes. Is it really stealing? Actually, I think it is and unless we work those extra ten minutes at the other end of the day or take a shorter lunch break, we are taking something we have not earned.

This is very much pertinent to our current situation. For me, working at home with four children running around can be very challenging. As I say, my employer has been very understanding and is allowing us time to sort out domestic issues. I should not take advantage of this however.

God wants us to be people of excellence. He wants us to be a good example to the world. Even if the rest of the world thinks it is fine to steal a few minutes here and there, we live to a higher standard. We are not satisfied to live below par just because no one is looking, because we know God is always looking.

Some say the Ten Commandments are old fashioned or even irrelevant. Not so.

Do not steal.

Exodus 20:15 (GNT)

This is a pretty straightforward commandment.

God has not changed His mind.

While we may not enter a store, pick something up and leave without paying for it, we sometimes fall a little short. If an online shop makes an error and sends you two items instead of one, and you’ve only paid for one, then you do not have the right to keep it without checking with the store. Offer to pay for it or return it, and many stores may just tell you to keep it. This has happened to me more than once.

Do not steal. It sounds simple, but can be applied in many ways in our lives. God has convicted me while writing this, and I hope it encourages you to come up higher and reach for excellence in all you do.