Proverbs 19:19 talks about letting people avoid consequences time & time again. What should that teach us as parents? Supervisors? Friends?
Do you remember a time as a kid or young adult when you knew you’d be busted for misbehavior? What did you learn from it?
So, I had this devotional idea to write about discipline, after I came across a few verses in Proverbs 19 that I’ll share below. I was thinking about telling the story of how my brother once kicked a hole in my bedroom door because sweet, lil’ innocent me made him mad for some reason or another that I’m sure was his fault, to begin with. 😉
I pondered this idea for a few days, and then – I kid you not – one of my boys lost his temper and put a boot-toe-sized hole in a brother’s bedroom door. I would prefer to only share the stories about how darling my children are, and how much they love each other. Those things are true … on certain days. On other days, the proverbial organic fertilizer hits the fan.
Sometimes I wish God’s instructions would be written on the wall for me. (See Daniel 5 for the wall-writing reference.) Trying to decide on the right punishment to fit the offense is one of the hardest things for me as a parent. I don’t share stories about my kids because I think I’m an awesome parent. Believe me, I screw up all the time and question myself way more often than I feel confident. I do know, however, that learning to accept responsibility for your actions is a huge part of becoming a mature adult. Proverbs 19:18 warns parents that if we fail to hold our kids accountable to their choices, then we are contributing to ruining their lives! Ouch. Verse 19 (NLT) goes on to say, “Hot-tempered people must pay the penalty. If you rescue them once, you will have to do it again.”
Let’s switch gears a sec. It’s easy for me to put myself in the discipline-giver seat, since I’m the parent in the above scenario. Yet, how many times have I been the discipline-recipient because of my own poor choices? I don’t go around kicking doors, but if there’s a genetic link to smart-aleckness, then my kids come by it honestly. My attitude can get the best of me, at times.
Deuteronomy 8:5 and Hebrews 12:4-11 remind us that the Lord disciplines us like a loving parent – not for punishment’s sake alone, but so that we’ll learn and grow from the experience. Discipline should bring about the “peaceful fruit of righteousness” in our lives (Heb. 12:11, ESV). As painful as it may be to accept, that goes for us grownups as well as kids. What might God be trying to teach you, even now?
Do you remember the jingle from the Klondike® commercials, “What would you do for a Klondike bar?” with people doing silly antics to earn one? What if the stakes were higher than just a square chunk of chocolate-coated ice cream?
What would you do for $100? $1,000? $1,000,000? Would you eat bugs? Would you violate your moral convictions? Would you put your life at risk?
In this age of reality TV, it’s obvious that many people will do just about anything for attention: live in the wilderness for months, subject themselves to public scrutiny and berating, face grueling physical challenges, even marry a virtual stranger. What if the stakes were higher than just a few minutes of television fame or a prize jackpot?
What if the stakes were eternity?
The Amplified Bible translates Psalm 125:3 as: “For the scepter of wickedness shall not rest upon the land of the [uncompromisingly] righteous, lest the righteous (God’s people) stretch forth their hands to iniquity and apostasy.” Uncompromisingly righteous … that seems to mean that people who otherwise live righteously still make unrighteous choices sometimes. We compromise. We give into lesser stakes—but for what? For fame? For glory? For something that feels like love? For a sense of self-worth? For spite?
The Psalm goes on to say, in verse 5, that our “crooked ways” boil down to our indifference toward God. When we compromise, we say to the Lord that we don’t care what he thinks. The Bible is clear that God does not want anyone to perish (John 3:16, 2 Peter 3:9), but when we turn our backs on him, sometimes he lets us keep walking. Psalm 125 ends with a sobering image of God’s people walking off with evildoers. Is any amount of worldly gain worth separation from God?
Originally posted July 31, 2011
I pray that we are never forced to choose between our lives or our faith, but sober our hearts today, Lord, and remind us of your sacrifice.
We can say that we forgive someone, but when we’re faced with a choice to harm or help them, the truth comes out. What will it be?
Much of the time, the star athletes have the first turn. There are starting pitchers in baseball, starting point guards in basketball, starting quarterbacks in football, etc. In these sports, you want to get on the board first and stay in the lead.
A different strategy comes into play when the sport is a relay race, however. Certainly, the lead runner or swimmer needs to be a strong athlete, and those in the middle of the race need to maintain a swift pace, but the star—the one who will bring home the win—is the powerhouse anchor. The last one to leave the starting block is the one people look to for the finale. The anchor breaks the ribbon with one final stride; the anchor stops the timer with one final stroke.
In life, though, we don’t always like being last … do we?
When you are the anchor, you don’t start on 0:00. You start at whatever point your team made it to before your leg began. You might already be in the lead; you might be trailing everyone. Regardless, it’s your job to kick it in gear (pun intended) and either maintain the lead or earn it.
Likewise, we don’t have control over many of the circumstances that have affected our lives in the past. We can’t usually undo past mistakes. You can’t choose your parents; you don’t pick your siblings. You can influence but not force change in your spouse and children. You can’t single-handedly fix corporate lay-offs or the tumbling stock market.
You may be running the anchor leg in life, but don’t give up! God doesn’t expect you to run the whole race alone, but he does expect you to keep on keeping on. Check out Romans 12: 11-12: “Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder” (The Message).
So, if you are looking over your shoulder at the past, then you are not focusing on the race ahead … and anyone who has ever seen a horror flick knows that looking over your shoulder while running is a bad, bad idea. Stay alert; don’t quit.
Originally posted May 22, 2011