Friday, August 11, 2006

On Discipline


The word appears forty-two (42) times in the English Standard Version (ESV), my next Bible. (Aside: this version comes highly recommended by Dr. John Yocum, a brother from the Servants of the Word, who gave us a very concise and inspiring course on Scripture study last weekend at the Lingkod Regional Leaders’ Training Conference [RLTC] in Antipolo.)

I find that I balk at being at disciplined as much as any human being. Who loves to be corrected? Who looks forward to receiving feedback? Who does not cringe when faced with his/her weaknesses and failures in life? This is a perfectionist’s nightmare.

It is tempting to walk away and say, I don’t need this. I don’t have to complicate my life by subjecting myself to discipline. This generation characterized by permissiveness does not put value to self-control and discipline, and to be one who willingly undergoes pruning is to be labeled as stupid, even outright insane.

I have established myself as foolish by doing crazy things in life, anyway, so by reading about discipline and who gives it and what He has in mind, I am more able to accept it as my reality for now, and to fix my eyes on the end-goal which is to please my God and become the woman that He wants me to be. For it is written:

Out of heaven he let you hear his voice, that he might discipline you. And on earth he let you see his great fire, and you heard his words out of the midst of the fire. De 4:36

Behold, blessed is the one whom God reproves; therefore despise not the discipline of the Almighty. Job 5:17

My son, do not despise the Lord's discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.
Proverbs 3:11-12

Bull’s eye. It’s out of my Father’s love that He’s doing this. So yes it’s uncomfortable and painful, but I have to be formed, reformed and transformed if I want to be put through the Refiner’s Fire and reflect the image of my Creator in my heart.

There is more… though I’m not including every mention of discipline in the bible here. I also want to do a Scripture study but I lack time.

Pr 6:23 For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light, and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life,

Pr 12:1 Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

Pr 13:24 Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.

Pr 15:10 There is severe discipline for him who forsakes the way; whoever hates reproof will die.

Pr 29:17 Discipline your son, and he will give you rest; he will give delight to your heart.

I want to be a disciple of Jesus, and if I just add the word “IN”, that spells discipline. And that makes the difference. May my heavenly Father delight in me.

Saint Paul puts it clearly in his First Letter to the Corinthians:

1Co 9:27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

There is even a long discussion on discipline in Hebrews 12, as follows:

4 In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5 And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. 6 For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives. 7 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? 8 If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9 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? 10 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. 11 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.

With a very deep sigh, I say “Yes Lord, I see your point. I submit to you in this area, and to my leaders whom you have sent to love and prune me.” I admit though that I have an ulterior motive for doing this: I want to yield “the peaceful fruit of righteousness” in my life.

Discipline? My response to that before was like the message in a mug we once had at home: “I’d rather be dancing.” But I know I can’t simply dance my way out of this one.

Finally in the last book it says,

Re 3:19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.

This aspect of love is quite painful. Nothing is ever easy, and I am reminded of the rich young man who turned away from Jesus’ challenge to leave everything behind. After he left, Jesus said in answer to the disciples’ question, “Who then can be saved?”:

“With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matt. 19:26)

So I die with this disciplining. As today’s Gospel says,

Jn 12:24-26

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Amen, amen, I say to you,
unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies,
it remains just a grain of wheat;
but if it dies, it produces much fruit.
Whoever loves his life loses it,
and whoever hates his life in this world
will preserve it for eternal life.
Whoever serves me must follow me,
and where I am, there also will my servant be.
The Father will honor whoever serves me.”

Lord Jesus, help me to serve you and follow you in the way that you want me to. Not my way, but yours. Amen.

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