Breakfast with Solomon - Proverbs 3:12
"For whom the Lord loves He reproves, even as a father corrects the son in whom he delights"
This principle that has been the bedrock of parenting for four millennia has been abandoned in our day. Correcting, rebuking, chastising the child that you love. A child cannot reach its maximum potential without correction. A child cannot bring enjoyment to a family if it does not have self-control. These are axiomatic and yet our culture has become obsessed with the idea that children will do far better if they are never corrected and if they are never rebuked. This type of parenting will destroy this culture by raising a host of children who can never rise above their own selfish impulses.
It almost seems counter-intuitive, but it is a powerful truth. Children must be corrected and disciplined in order to enjoy them and take greater delight in them. Their ability to become all that God placed in them is dependent upon their ability to overcome the selfish impulses that rage within them. They must be able to say no to themselves. This ability almost always is developed with the aid of an outside agency (parent, teachers, military, police, mentors). The most brilliant children who consistently follow their selfish impulses will be diverted from the contribution that they were supposed to make to society, their families, and themselves.
In the same way, this proverb tells us God cannot allow us to have everything that we want. He must rebuke us and train us so that we can overcome our foolish tendencies that our parents missed or did not train out of our lives. The fact that God would discipline us is amazing. We have often viewed God's role as only that of a loving grandfather waiting to spoil us with our every whim. This is not an accurate picture of God. We have been created to accomplish good works (Ephesians 2:10). The only way that we will be able to accomplish those good works is if we can deny our own selfish impulses at some level and work to the greater good. So, God sends discipline into our lives to get us ready.
God also rebukes or corrects us when we have directly rebelled from His way. Do not do that, His Word says. Do not go there, He tells us. But we do it anyway. There are consequences and rebukes. I have seen a number of people who refuse to respond to God's rebukes, and then they get mad at God for the mess in their lives.
A crucial question at this point is how do God’s rebukes come? Most of us would like it to be a verbal rebuke or a note with a severe reprimand. There have only been a few instances of this type of rebuke from God. In those cases, it represents the end of God's grace and the beginning of severe judgment. Usually God's rebuke comes in the most crucial aspects of life – our relationships. He brings difficulties or allows the consequences of our actions to diminish one or more of our relationships. Why would God pick relationships as the place to land His rebuke? Because relationships are the point of life.
Remember, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. And thy neighbor as thyself. These are the two great commandments and are the focus of life. Relationships are the focus of life. Therefore, our relationships are the most crucial things in life.
Let me just refresh your thinking about our relationships. We have nine basic relationships: God, Self; Marriage; Family; Work; Church; Money; Society; Friends. God will bring rebuke to these relationships to correct our behavior. Usually it is our selfishness in that relationship that destroys or diminishes the relationship. Suffering through the diminished relationship should cause us to sit up and make correction to restore the relationship. God is not rebuking us because He wants to restrict our lives but to prepare us for a fuller life and great enjoyment in our relationships.
In our day and age, we don't want to pay attention to the rebuke of God, so we have developed disposable relationships. If this marriage is not working out, I will get another one. If this family is not enjoyable, I will get another one. On and on it goes with no one ever resolving differences and learning what real relational harmony takes. I have watched people marry multiple times, never fixing the underlying selfishness and always blaming the other person for not understanding them. I have watched adult men and women lose jobs, be passed over for promotions, and be fired without ever considering that their selfishness was the problem. It was always the boss or the company but never them. This is like the child who believes that his parents are ogres because they tell him no and discipline him.
One of the most significant implications of this proverb that is repeated in the New Testament is that God loves those whom He rebukes. If He just allows you to wallow in your selfishness and you are given free rein to pursue your selfish desires; this is evidence that He does not love you, not that He does love you. When God tells you NO. When He disciplines you for acting in a selfish way with Him or in your marriage or at work or with your family, take this as a good sign. When you feel the conviction of God over your actions, become excited. God loves you. Respond to His love with humility and submission. Change your behavior and move to the center of His love. Bring delight to His heart.