Wednesday, November 19, 2014

"Discipline." Really?

Years ago, when I was about sixteen, my sister and I were visiting my dad for the weekend. One of our ritual weekend visits because our parents were divorced. I just happened to be digging through my suitcase, eager to put on my new underpants that Mom recently bought me (underpants that didn't reach all the way up to my chest). I was thrilled! These actually had lace at the top. I couldn't wait to get them on! But as I dug through my suitcase, I discovered my younger sister's new underpants, the ones without the lace. As I watched her get into her suitcase (we always packed our own suitcases, btw), I saw MY underwear! MY new lacy, silky panties in HER suitcase! Boy, did she hear it. I stood with my fists on my waist and told her to give me back MY UNDERWEAR! Of course, she wouldn't and outright lied about them being HERS! I couldn't believe that she would be so wicked and lie about something that we BOTH knew wasn't TRUE. I mean seriously. We were both present when Mom gave us our new, beautiful packages of underwear. And we opened them right in front of each other. But she wouldn't back down. Absolutely wouldn't budge. Nose in the air, she slipped on MY PANTIES!

That's when I marched into the living room (don't worry, I was dressed by now, wearing my little sister's panties and clothes over those), and I shouted and blazed, bellowing that my sister was lying and had stolen MY UNDERWEAR! It got so nasty that I shouted in my sister's face (daringly in front of my father), "I HATE YOU!" Yes, all over a pair of panties. sigh Perhaps this was the last straw in a long line of "offenses," but the word hate, and the feelings of hate, came flooding out over a pair of underwear. Well, not just "one pair." An entire set of beautiful panties.

That's when my dad got out his Bible and had me read 1 John 4:20-21, "If someone says, 'I love God,' and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother who he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also."

Boy, when I read that verse, I was convicted. Still, ticked, but convicted. That's when I backed down and said, "Well, I DON'T LIKE her then. Humph."

It was that evening, and long into the night, that we had a Bible study with my dad (who was recently released from prison where he had learned the gospel, btw), and at around 12 midnight I was baptized. But that's another story.

This post is about "discipline." Have you ever been slapped in the face with "discipline?" Or perhaps you were on the other end of the spectrum, and you (maybe without knowing it) were disciplining someone you loved? Have you ever loved someone so deeply that you warned them when you saw they were going off the path? When you saw---not a flood coming---just a slight wind that might blow them off course?

And then, you got your head bit off, chewed up, spit out and stomped on?


Honestly, I've been on both ends of this spectrum. I've been accused of "judging," of "needing to mind my own business," and even told, "how dare you 'discipline' me!" When I really didn't realize that's what I was doing. But I've also said the same things (if not in the exact same words) when someone was trying to correct me. I've chewed my loved ones up, spit them out, and stomped on them.

However, I never thought a little enlightenment or correction could be considered "discipline." Someone pointed this out to me, and well, I guess they were right. I never thought of it as discipline when you're just trying to point someone in the right direction. And let's say I DID know what it was, that I knew I was stepping out into that barren field of "correction?" Do you think it was easy? Easy to step out all alone to say, "Hey, this is wrong"? No! We need to remember that! If someone does go out of their way for us, to point to a better path, don't bite the person's head off, but remember that this act was likely a very difficult step for them to take, and they're doing it because they love you. If they didn't love you, they wouldn't care what you were doing, even if it was going to harm you. Someone recently had to correct me, and it was much easier to take knowing it was difficult for them to come to me and they were coming to me in love.

Here's something else to consider: What if . . . just WHAT IF the direction they were pointing us to was not a direction or a path of their own choosing? What if it was the Lord's path and what's found in His word?

If someone says, "According to the word/Bible, you should . . . " We shouldn't scoff at it, but instead, be like the Bereans in Acts and look up what they're saying to see if what they're saying is true. We want to be pleasing to the Lord, don't we? Well, let's make an effort to do that (remember, it's not about pleasing the messenger, but about pleasing our God). And it's not easy! Sometimes I don't want to read my Bible for fear I'll be looking right into a mirror that reveals my sinfulness. I don't want to see that. I want to read the verses about God's love for me, about how Jesus died for me and healed the people. Not about how I need to change. Thanks, but no thanks. But if we want to love God back, and live in the light, in His Truth, we better take time to give ourselves those "exams" and take a good hard look in the mirror.

It's important to remember passages like Proverbs 10:17, "He is on the path of life who heeds instruction, but he who ignores reproof goes astray."

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

I'm never fond of correction. In fact, when it first happens, I’m NOT a very nice person! I'm quite stupid, to be honest. Then as time goes on and it all sinks in, I usually (painfully) come around.

I especially hate it when "correction" or "reproof" comes from someone I think should be corrected! ARG! That's the worst! But . . . maybe it's a test to see how much we love Truth? Are we willing to accept it from someone we can't stand?

These passages, along with the one my dad made me read when I was younger, leaped off the page and gave me a quick slap. I don’t like it when that happens, especially if I'm doing something wrong, because it’s blatantly “in my face.” But that's God's word. He's our Father, and He has a way of cutting to the quick!

The following one really hurts. Here it is . . .

Proverbs 15:10b, "He who hates reproof will die."