24 And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, 25 in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, 26 and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.” (2 Timothy 2:24–26, NKJV)
We noted in yesterday’s Sword Tips (#1799) that gospel preaching gets personal by making personal applications that convict and convert. This by no means sanctions personal, verbal abuse while doing so. “Defending the truth” is not a cloak behind which envy and strife may hide (1 Cor. 3:3-4). Identifying a false teacher is not a personal attack when it is supported by Scriptural evidence of error being taught, endorsed, and promoted. Publicly identifying opponents of the truth is entirely Scriptural when it is aimed at (1) Saving the lost, and (2) Protecting the saved (see Rom. 16:17-18; 1 Tim. 1:19-20; 2 Tim. 2:16-18; 4:14-15; 3 John 9-10). This is very different from being quarrelsome and malicious toward those same people (which today’s passage forbids). Gentleness (not weakness) – when combined with the ability to teach, endurance, and humility – produces a powerful faith that equips the servant of the Lord to correct those who oppose truth (25) so they may repent and escape the devil’s clutches (25-26). The servant of the Lord does this by remembering the “good fight of faith” is not about him, it is about laying hold of eternal life – and about helping others do the same (1 Tim. 6:12).
6 “For whom the LORD loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives.” 7 If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? 8 But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. (Hebrews 12:6–8, NKJV)
The word “chasten” means discipline, and this passage leaves no doubt that properly applied discipline (instruction and correction) includes momentary pain which is intended to yield positive results (Hebrews 12:6, 9-11). The rod of discipline is not a rod of abuse (although that is how the world portrays it). Just as the world resists the Lord’s corrective discipline (although it beneficial), it also resists God’s word that teaches parents to use it as one aspect of training their children. “He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly” (Proverbs 13:24). Children need training to mature properly. To discipline them is a mark of parental love. To withhold needed discipline from a child is not love. The child who refuses and despises parental discipline is rebellious. The Christian who refuses and despises God’s discipline is also rebellious. Thus, we are exhorted to “be in subjection” to our Father’s discipline so we may partake of His holiness (Hebrews 12:10).
23 O Lord, I know the way of man is not in himself; It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps. 24 O Lord, correct me, but with justice; Not in Your anger, lest You bring me to nothing. (Jeremiah 10:23–24, NKJV)
God’s prophet declares a singular truth: Human beings do not innately possess the knowledge, wisdom and perception to correctly direct our lives before God. Simply put, we cannot save ourselves. Nevertheless, men and women have tried to do so for millennia. Yet, only by accepting God’s correction and following His discipline are we able to walk in the peace of His eternal blessings. Since we cannot direct our own steps, psychoanalysis will not give people the ultimate answers they are searching for in their lives. Peeling back the layers of one’s own mind and emotions will not adequately provide the answers, the correction, and direction to life that brings peace with God. And, isn’t that the peace we ought to desire the most? The answers to life are not found within oneself. They are found in the word of God. By disciplining our hearts and lives according to the teachings of the Bible, we will not only get to know ourselves, but more importantly, we will get to know God and how to live in His salvation.
11 My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor detest His correction; 12 For whom the Lord loves He corrects, just as a father the son in whom he delights. (Proverbs 3:11–12, NKJV)
The parent who loves his or her child will discipline the misbehaving child. Instruction, along with punishment, consistently applied to correct disobedient behavior, works. The Lord God, who made us, knows it does, and He applies His “chastening” (instructive and corrective training) to produce respectful, obedient children. The child-rearing experts who refuse punitive correction do a great disservice to this generation – and the next. It is precisely because the father “delights” in (loves) his child that he corrects his child. “He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly” (Prov. 13:24). True, correction is not pleasant when applied, but “afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (Heb. 12:11). Parents, teach and correct your children, using consist love, as the Lord does His children. Let us all heed the wise counsel of Solomon not to reject the Lord’s correction of our sins. It is intended for our benefit now, and our eternal salvation by and by.
He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly. (Proverbs 13:24, NKJV)
Many of us have been on an airplane and witnessed an unruly child. Undisciplined and out of control, the child disrupts the entire cabin with screaming or other displays of defiance. This reminds us that discipline is a combination of instruction and correction. One cannot expect a child to behave who has not been taught acceptable behavior. The “rod” of correction comes after the instruction, and only when the instruction is not accepted. In order to be effective, corrective discipline needs to be “promptly” applied. Failure to do so invites even more resistance. The rod of correction is not a rod of abuse; they are two very different things. As God disciplines His children in love, and sets an example for parents to follow. “Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (Heb. 12:11).
Let the righteous strike me; It shall be a kindness. And let him rebuke me; It shall be as excellent oil; Let my head not refuse it. For still my prayer is against the deeds of the wicked. (Psalm 141:5, NKJV)
We must be humble in order to accept correction. Unfortunately, kindness is not always in the heart of the one who chastens us. When parents correct a child, let it be from loving kindness, not unrighteous anger. When a fellow Christian warns or rebukes another over sin, let it come from kindness, not superiority and conceit. We need discipline and correction as we grow in Christ. We ought to willingly accept the sting of rebuke intended to correct and help us improve spiritually. Although painful when applied, good results will follow (Heb. 12:4-11). When the righteous must correct us it is for our good. Do not refuse it. Receive it, and turn away from wickedness. “Rebuke a wise man, and he will love you. Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; Teach a just man, and he will increase in learning” (Prov. 9:8-9).
He who keeps instruction is in the way of life, but he who refuses correction goes astray.” (Proverbs 10:17, NKJV)
Have you ever consulted a map and discovered you were on the wrong road? Of, finding yourself lost, did you use the map (or, in this digital world, GPS navigation) to get back on the right road? If so, you were teachable, and found your way. We are all on life’s road. And, we can lose our way very easily. When that happens, are you teachable? You may not even know you are lost. But, are you willing to accept instruction from the word of God that others show you? Or, do you refuse the Bible and the corrections it teaches? We ought to be as willing to let God’s word show us the way to heaven as we are to let a map show us how to get to our destination. The person who is willing to be taught will find life more pleasant, more fulfilled. The unteachable person will be lost (now and forever), not because the way of life cannot be found and followed, but because he or she refuses correction.