Series: Wisdom That Works
Message: Wisdom for Life at the Extreme
Preacher: J. Murdock
Reflection: Mark Witas
Live Wonder: Zan Long
Live Adventure: Jessyka Dooley
Live Beyond: J. Murdock
Live Purpose: Emily Ellis
Editor: Becky De Oliveira
Refresh: Begin with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.
Read: Proverbs 3:9-12 in the English Standard Version (ESV). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: Discipline is an interesting word. Many people hear the word discipline and equate it with punishment. But discipline and punishment are two different things. Punishment is intended to inflict pain or discomfort as payback for some sort of naughty act. I cheated on the test so the teacher smacks the back of my hand with a ruler. I’ve done the crime, now I have to do the time. Punishment is punitive and not necessarily redemptive. Punishment is often reactive.
Discipline on the other hand is given and received with a purpose in mind, whether it’s inflicted on us from an authority figure or self inflicted.
I was no scholar in grade school, neither was I a person of much integrity. Twice I was caught cheating on tests. In seventh grade, Mr. Redford caught me cheating on a math test. He took me in the little closet next to our classroom, had me bend over and grab my knees, and gave me swats with a leather paddle. He punished me.
In ninth grade, I got caught cheating on a health test. Mr. Roemer came by, wadded up my test and told me to meet him after class. When we met, he asked me why I cheated. I told him, “I didn’t know the answers because I didn’t study.”
He said, “OK, here’s your chance. I’ve got all day. Study the chapter and then take the test. You aren’t leaving this room until you get 100%.”
It took me a few hours, but in the end I learned the chapter and got 100%. Mr. Roemer said, “Don’t cheat in my class anymore. I want you in my room after school each time we have a test the next day. I want you to study in my room so you’re not distracted. Got it?” I got it.
What Mr. Roemer did was discipline. He discipled me into a pretty good health student.
When we are disciplined by the Lord He is doing His best to turn us into a great student of the ways of Jesus. We need to learn how to accept this with joy and appreciation because we are loved.
Recalibrate: Compare a time when you were punished versus disciplined. Can you explain the difference? What were the results of each experience?
Respond: Pray these words: “Thank you Jesus for wanting the best for me. I open my life to your guiding discipline, wherever it leads.”
Research: Read Punishment Versus Discipline by Bruno Bettelheim.
Remember: ““The Lord corrects those He loves, just as a father corrects the child that He likes” (Proverbs 3:12, ICB).
Mark Witas is the lead pastor at Sunnyside Adventist Church in Portland, Oregon.
There is nothing I love more than hearing the sound of children role playing what they hear from their world. This is usually so cute, but on rare occasions it can be very sad. Our children listen and learn. Listen to your little one. Do they sound like you? Listen to yourself—do you like what you hear? This weekend, right now, take time to enjoy the sunshine, the air you are breathing, the sounds of the world around you. Let what is good pour in and out and over you and fill your world with the priceless blessings that God abundantly pours out.
Have you ever tried to learn something new on your own? When I was younger, my mom taught me how to knit. (Side note: this skill allowed me to make great Christmas presents for the family.) It was so hard at first! I had no idea how the yarn was supposed to go on the string in the first place, let alone how to move the needles to make the yarn weave together to make anything! My mom had to show me over and over again how to do it right. Sometimes I would make a big mistake and she had to undo some of my scarf to fix it. God helps us by correcting us and fixing the times when we messed up. He shows us how to do things over and over again without getting frustrated with us.
“The Lord corrects those He loves, just as a father corrects the child that He likes.” (Proverbs 3:12)
This week’s Words to Remember can be especially tough if all we ever do is read them off of the page. They can be hard to read because there are words that rely heavily on emotion and not just logic. Using your head alone, the words can make sense, sure. But then you lose the emotions that are necessary to helping make those words do more than simply make rational sense. With the addition of the emotions, the lesson goes from one that is easy to understand, but tough to apply to a lesson that is easy to understand because we have experienced it to be true in our hearts.
My mom was a teacher at the school I attended as a kid. That meant she not only knew my homework schedule, but she knew my teacher and how to look at her gradebook before report cards came out. There was no avoiding doing my assignments because my mom knew the answer to the question, “Do you have any homework today?” before I even answered! But that somehow didn’t stop me from lying about it every once in a while in order to get more time outside or in front of the TV.
In those moments, the wrath of my mother (which often felt on par with that of the God we see in the Book of Revelation) would come down on me. It was scary to see how lying made my mom break into a lecture! Left on its own, that lecture would feel like she was just being mad and irrational for the sake of being a mom. But when you added the reality that she loved me, wanted me to succeed, and knew that in order for me to become the man I am today she would have to instruct me on how to be someone who lived with honor and respect—well, only then can you start to see what Solomon is talking about in Proverbs. Solomon tells us that God treats us the same way as my mom treated me.
He corrects because He loves. Just like my mom lectured because she loves me.
Tough . . . but fair.
What are some ways you have experienced love despite enduring a tough lecture? How might you look back on those moments and see the love even when it may have felt aggressive at the time? What are some ways you can prepare yourself to have that experience you’re understanding now when you encounter something like this in the future? How might changing your frame of mind change the outcome of these disagreements?
When I was a freshman in high school, I went on a walk with a friend. We lost track of time, and it started to get dark. Eventually I made it home, but it was hours after I had said I would be back. My parents had been worried for hours! They were concerned for my well-being and didn’t know what had happened to me. After that incident, they told me I needed to be better at texting them about where I was so they would know I was safe. Their restrictions weren’t a sign of a lack of love, but rather an abundance of love. They truly cared about me. Proverbs 3:12 talks about how the Lord disciplines the one He loves just as fathers discipline their children, whom they love. It is easy to view discipline in a negative light, but in actuality it is for our good. How can you view discipline through the eyes of love?
It is easy to avoid discipline because we think that it will involve pain. I tend to back away when it comes to discipline and confronting certain areas in my life I know I need to address! But if we don’t deal with those issues now, they might become scars later on. “Do not despise the Lord’s instruction, my son, and do not loathe His discipline” (Proverbs 3:10).
Zan Long is GRC director for faith development for ages 0-17. She lives in Sydney, Australia, and serves at her local church in nearby Kellyville.
Jessyka Dooley is assistant youth director for the Rocky Mountain Conference of Seventh-day Adventists in Denver, Colorado.
J. Murdock is associate pastor at Boulder Adventist Church in Boulder, Colorado, where he focuses on youth and young adult ministry.
Emily Ellis is a senior studying theology at Walla Walla University in College Place, Washington.