How Should I Respond to Discipline?

Biblical Authority Devotional: Roles of Family Members, Part 6

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The book of Proverbs has much to say about the importance of discipline. David Wright, AiG–U.S., explains why it is so important for young people to respond appropriately.

He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly. (Proverbs 13:24)

Today’s big question: how should I respond to discipline?

In today’s oversensitive society, the word “discipline” is seen as an evil word, practically on par with “abuse.” Of course, this stems from a misunderstanding of discipline. As children, we tend to hate discipline, but it’s not a bad thing.

In the perfect pre-Fall world, discipline would have been unnecessary since no corrections in behavior, thoughts, or attitudes would have been needed. However, since we do live in a fallen, sin-cursed world God instituted discipline for our own good. As children and later in adulthood, we must be willing to receive discipline and instruction.

A fool despises his father’s instruction, but he who receives correction is prudent. (Proverbs 15:5)

Accepting discipline displays one’s character as it shows maturity and humility. Someone who rejects discipline is someone who believes he is above the correction of others and even of God. To have a disdain for discipline is like saying, “I am above all others. I have no faults or defects. I am perfect.” In short, it is an arrogant and rebellious attitude. To spurn parents’ discipline is to repudiate the authority given to them by God. When you respond inappropriately to your parents’ discipline, you are actually rejecting the discipline of God.

Though discipline is never pleasant and at times painful (emotionally, mentally, even physically, etc.), it is worth going through. Just as fire refines gold, so discipline refines character. Hebrews 5 explains the purpose and spirit of discipline and how we are to react to it:

 “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:5–11, ESV)

So take joy in knowing the discipline you endure is for your benefit, and it is one way God shows His love for you.

Today’s big idea: accepting discipline from parents is the responsibility of all children.

What to pray: ask to see the good and find contentment in discipline, whether from parents or God.

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