SO much food for thought in this chapter! Where to start?!
1 A gentle answer…. yep, familiar with that one,
16 Better is a little with the fear of the Lord…. uh-huh, sounds familiar
20 A wise son makes a father glad, … ain’t THAT the truth?!
Today the Lord waited until the very end of the chapter to whisper “Read that part again – let it soak in a little more.”
So I did. The last three verses.
He whose ear listens to the life-giving reproof will dwell among the wise. He who neglects discipline despises himself, but he who listens to reproof acquires understanding. The fear of the LORD is the instruction for wisdom, and before honor comes humility.
“Life-giving reproof” Sounds almost like an oxymoron, doesn’t it? You’re going to reprove me and I’m going to actually listen to you? Not fabricate my defensive answer while you carefully pick your words? If I want to live among the wise, I will. Or if I’m in the habit of hearing that way, maybe I already do. Either way, down deep that’s what I want to be like. So I need to hush – and listen to the reproof.
There’s a sentence I picked up in a management training seminar that’s intended to disarm defensiveness, or at least buy a few minutes while I frantically try to knee it back into the closet and cram the door shut: “Tell me more.” I hate that phrase sometimes, but it’s usually just what I need; hearing the reproof in detail, I mean. Listen. (Yah-yah-yah.) No, really. Listen. If you want the understanding, listen.
Discipline. I’ve had stretches of my life highway where I forgot all about discipline. Neglected it, I guess you could say; and those were the times I thought less of myself than God wanted me to. I knew what I needed to do during those times (my parents di’n’t raise no dummy!) but I just “neglected” to do the right thing – for whatever reason. Foolish. How many times have I been teaching away or counselling someone and have pointed out that disciple and discipline share the same root? Dozens, maybe scores of times. Teaching it doesn’t mean a guy is necessarily applying it, though. Been there. Done that. Lost the T-shirt!
So why’s it so hard to follow through on the discipline on a personal level?
a) Is it because I don’t really believe I’m a child of the King and can be good at what I do?
b) Is it because I think “I’m going to fail eventually” and don’t apply myself completely so I’m not so disappointed when I finally do?
c) Is it because experience has me trained- that I can’t? (That’s why circus owners can stake huge elephants with small stakes, did you know that? When they were little elephants the stakes were huge. After a while something inside says “don’t bother”. That’s when the trainer starts using smaller stakes.)
d) Is it because I want the glory without the guts of discipline?
e) All of the above at one time or another.
Probably e. [sigh] Discipline’s worth it. Ask any Olympian. Ask a first-rate dad. Ask any devoted follower of Jesus Christ. It’s worth it.
The fear of the Lord – There it is again, the instruction for wisdom. It’s what I really want and I must humble myself beFORE the honor. I can’t imagine striving for the honor and THEN finding humility somewhere in my duffel bag, can you? Nope, the humility comes first.
Great lessons, Lord, Thank You! What’s the rest of the chapter say again?
This is good for today, Son, I’ll show you something else next time.
OK I’ll think about this today. It’s plenty.
I’m here with you, remember, teaching and empowering you as you go. Let me do it for you. Without me you can’t do a thing.
Right – and through You I can do all things with your strength.
Attaboy! – You’re getting it!