Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Motivation of Discipline

As a kid, I used to lie a lot. It was pretty bad. I've commented before on how easy it is to see the horrible nature of man in children and I was no exception to the rule.

Well, anyway, as I was saying, I used to lie profusely. And when I say that I lied, I'm not just talking about lying to get myself out of a jam, or lying to blame someone for something I did. Don't get me wrong, I did those, too, but often, I would lie for the simple purpose of lying. I would lie about random things that wouldn't benefit me in any way because of my lie. As I said - pretty bad.

Well, after a while, my parents (who I've never been able to slip anything by) decided to confront the problem and deal with it. I used to love Veggie Tales, and one night they brought home a VHS tape (yes, yes, back in the good ole days) about the adventure of Larry-Boy and the Rumor Weed. Essentially, it was about lying and all of the problems that it gets you into. Well, as a child, this impacted me deeply and rocked my world. So my parents sat me down and we had a talk and from that time, I was convicted to be honest.

Sure, it wasn't easy, but it came as one of the first times in my young life where I listened to my parents not out of fear of punishment, but out of a deeply felt conviction. This set a precedent for the rest of my life to be able to hear the correction of the Scriptures and godly people and to follow it, as long as I knew it was an accurate rebuke I was receiving.

As I grew in the knowledge and wisdom of the Scriptures, I saw that this idea was littered all throughout those pages. Proverbs says over and over that " the corrections of discipline are the way to life," (6:23) and "whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid." (12:1) It's pretty rare for the Bible to be calling someone stupid. I mean I've heard "fool" a lot, but "stupid" seems to be just another level entirely.

I'm pretty sure that God is the last person you want thinking that you're stupid, huh?

So these instructions to listen and hear discipline are really important, and require a humble attitude in approaching them. But there arises another a question that comes out of this issue: what if there is no one you know that is in a position to lead you correctly in discipline and wisdom?

Well, to begin with, we always have the Scriptures. And they will always lead you in perfection and correct discipline. A man who thoroughly reads the Bible will be in tune with the corrections and rebukes of that book and will (if he is wise) find ways to apply these things in all areas of his life.

But there's more to it than that, isn't there?

I will be one of the first people to admit that we are creatures of relationships. We always, in every sector of life, seek a human connection in whatever we choose to be a part of. Marriage, friendships, family ties - all of these are things we intensely seek out of life. To quote a song by Sanctus Real, "We need each other."

So, in this situation, a human connection is needed in the area of discipline. We need someone to come alongside us to lovingly and gently bring up things we need to work on. We also need that person to usher us along in the walk of growing in that correction and working on it. They need to be there to encourage us and help us up when we stumble and fall. (Notice I said "when," not "if.")

So where do we find that? So many people I know come from broken families and homes. They, for sure, won't be getting that wisdom from their parents or brothers and sisters. And before I continue, let me remind you that we are to always respect and obey our parents as far as what we are doing in their commands isn't sin. If you don't know what I'm talking about, please read Ephesians 6. But also, usually, a lot of our "friends" will just completely mess us up with their advice. What do we do when these situations apply?

Where can we go!?

The only place I can think of is family. Now, you may think I'm off my rocker and can't find my marbles 'cuz I just said that often family is unreliable. Well, lemme explain. Paul, in pretty much every book and letter he writes calls the people that he is addressing his "brothers and sisters."

In other words, we are united as the family of Christ in the church. So the solution to this whole "I-don't-have-anyone-to-lead-me-in-discipline" thing is going to require a bit of work on our part. We must take the initiative to find someone in God's family who will be able to take the responsibility of this task. As a young person, it is preferrable to have someone older than you that has more experience and wisdom than you to lead you in your walk with Christ and in general life. After all, it doesn't make sense for someone who has just as much wisdom as you to be leading you in wisdom does it? Makes me think of the whole "blind leading the blind" ordeal.

And while I've been focusing on discipline, it is important to realize that this kind of relationship reaches way past just that. At my church, it's been decided that discipleship leaders are to "live life together" with those whom they disciple. After all, you don't just go to family for one thing. You come to them for everything.

So I'll end what I have to say with this admonition: not following someone in the correction and discipline of the Lord almost always ends in a crash-and-burn type of situation. It will dull your faith and weaken your walk. Having someone alongside you to encourage you and bring you up in the Lord is absolutely essential to growing and maturing in Christ.

I've heard it said once that "behind every great man is a great woman." Well, I would take that even further to say, "Behind every godly Christian is a godly leader."


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