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Lines by Lee

The Widsom of Discipline

I am nearly 2.5 years into my ministry as a hospice chaplain. Time flies. I like most everything about the job. I am able to meet amazing people and share God's Word with them. We listen to and sometimes sing wonderful hymns of the faith together. The Lord allows me to encourage people daily as I pray aloud with them. I get to travel around a beautiful area. Naturally, there are things I do not like. I am not fond of dogs barking at me, especially if they are bigger than me. A cat rubbing against my legs is not a good feeling for me. Perhaps the worst aspect of what I do is documentation. Inevitably, I either do something wrong or omit some vital element. That would not be so bad if it were not for my boss quickly and not always kindly telling me what I did wrong. No one likes to be wrong. We especially dread being told the error of our ways by someone else.

Perhaps my pride is at the root of not liking being corrected. I do my best to do things by the book. My wife is even more geared that way. One of our sons tends to be very rules oriented. When we fail, even in small ways, it hurts to be made aware of it. We tend to feel better about ourselves when we do not make mistakes or stumble morally.

Continuing my series through selected verses in Proverbs, we find the issue of correction and discipline being addressed in chapter 12. "Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but whoever hates correction is stupid" (1). The writer again uses clear contrast with the words loves and hates. We gain knowledge when we receive discipline. He does not say that discipline is easy or welcomed but it should be treasured because of what it produces. Simply put, it is stupid to hate correction. The old saying is true that we learn from our mistakes. In the case of my job, I seem to be making slightly fewer documentation errors – not that my boss would ever admit to it.

Of course, we know that the Lord disciplines those he loves (Hebrews 12:6). Like any good parent understands, the discipline of a child is a vital means toward maturity; though it may not be enjoyable for either party. "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 12:11).

We must sometimes remind ourselves that our righteous God always is driven by love. That is natural since God is love. He wants to show us favor as we live wisely for him. "Good people obtain favor from the Lord, but he condemns those who devise wicked schemes." I sometimes forget to simply ask the Lord for his favor. Daily sneezes around the world are followed by "God bless you." The truth is we do not have to have allergies or take a whiff of black pepper to be blessed by the Lord. When we make wise choices and are good people, we receive his favor. While we can't earn our way to heaven, our God of grace blesses his children for our obedience. Being good to others brings about the blessings of our bountiful God. On the other hand, condemnation and consequences come to those who think about wrong and carry it out.

As my wife and I near our 22nd anniversary I can certainly testify to what scripture says in various places about the value of a good wife. "A worthy wife is a crown for her husband, but a disgraceful woman is like cancer in his bones." Whether the wife word is worthy, excellent, or noble, they describe my wife well. She has had an excellent example for 50 years as she has watched her mother. Husbands are certainly blessed when their spouse serves God and him with love and grace. I know that my wife has to put up with a lot of shortcomings in my life along with the many differences in personalities and opinions that we have. Of course, she also endures the various little things I do that aggravate her along the way. But her character produces a sweet, loving faithfulness that I admire and desire. Wives who are disgraceful are compared to bone cancer – not a good thing. My heart goes out to men who have lost their good wives or who never found one. God is faithful and comes along those who are lacking. I especially feel for men whose wives have been hurtful or unfaithful. I hope grace and forgiveness be displayed in their attitudes and actions.

One could say that there are two types of people in the world (besides male and female). There are those who seek and listen to advice and those who do not. "The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice." Once again, we see the contrast of the wise and foolish. It appears that pride is at the core of this verse as well. A foolish person's pride means that they are always right and that they know what they are doing. They are independent.

Someone who is wise recognizes there may be times when they need to ask others what they can offer about a situation. Before buying a car, I talk to car guys. When I am perplexed about something in the Bible, I seek out a pastor friend or Bible scholar. When I don't know how to fix something, I look for an instructional video. Then I pay someone to do it. While we do not need advice for every little decision or problem, there are many times that we do. I admit that sometimes I hate to ask because I lack the humility to do so. I do not want to be seen as stupid. Yet, it is foolish to jump into something without consulting with those who know better.

Proverbs 15:22 states: "Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed." The older I get, the more I should know. That may be true, but I also must remember how much I have forgotten. So with age, comes the wisdom to ask for advice and help. One thing I don't need advice on is when to conclude an article that I am writing.

The computer counts the words for me. So, as Porky the Pig says, "That's all folks"!

 

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