Loving Discipline

The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who is wise wins souls. If the righteous will be rewarded in the earth, how much more the wicked and the sinner! Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid. A good man will obtain favor from the LORD, But He will condemn a man who devises evil. A man will not be established by wickedness, but the root of the righteous will not be moved.
– Proverbs 11:30-12:3 (NAS)

Sometimes I just love the style of the NASB. What a very simple idea and yet how profound. “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.”

Of course the reason I love it so much is because I hated correction or reproof when I was a kid. It had to do with a perfectionistic attitude toward life that the only value my life had was when no one could find anything wrong with what I was doing. Not a healthy or sustainable attitude but after many years I recognized the dysfunction of that thought process and have found a measure of healing from God’s grace to help stay off that temptation and to allow my worth to be built in Christ.

However, I also realize that most of us are affected by this problem. Of course we all are at different places and it affects us in different ways. For some this means, like me never making any mistakes but that is a sign of failure. For others this attitude of not needing correction flows out of a pretty broken identity. For others there is a measure of arrogance where they really think they are better than everyone else and they actually believe it. Being that our whole culture is saturated with the idea that the more skilled and talented you are the more you are rewarded for what you can do for others. In some ways life is a business and our value is based on how well others can use us to get what they want done.

But if you look at the text that surround this particular verse we learn about five key things when it comes to loving discipline:

1. The person who loves discipline is teachable. The person who loves input and the wisdom of others to help them with life, or skills or whatever has to be eager to learn and improve their ability to engage life. Those who are NOT teachable may listen to the input of others but very rarely will take that information and do anything with it. While most people will tell you they are teachable the number is actually much smaller than you think.

2. The person who loves discipline loves wisdom, righteousness and the Lord. The surrounding texts support the idea there is a strong contrast between those who love discipline and those who do not. But it is clear the one who loves discipline finds favor from the Lord and will live righteously. He will be considered a good man or woman because they find their own reward from the Lord rather grasping to impress the world.

3. The person who hates discipline, reproof and correction is stupid or senseless. This is a hard issue these days. Discipline starts in the home and is the best training ground to raise children so that they will learn to love to grow and learn. My wife is a teacher and it is becoming more and more obvious that there are parents out there… how can I say this…are in any way prepared to help their kids learn to love discipline. The danger is that the product of an undisciplined life is both a person we would rather avoid than hang out with.

4. The person who loves discipline has a spiritual and moral compass. Those who hate reproof are those who “devise evil”, create “wickedness” and are described as “wicked and sinners”. They are their own authority and they care little for anyone else. They are the takers in the world and they have think nothing of exploiting others for their own gain. The one who willing accepts reproof clearly has their conscience connected to the Lord and understand there is such a thing as right and wrong.

5. The person who loves discipline will avoid numerous landmines through life. I am not a “health and wealth” advocate but it does appear that a person who loves discipline, especially when it has a moral and spiritual component to it, will avoid numerous problems in life. But more importantly, if I can word it this way, they do not become a problem for everyone else. While we can become our own worst enemy sometimes there is nothing worse in life than experiencing great anguish and pain at the hands of those who ought to love us.

Brad Little