Thanks for the Reprimand

January 23, 2010 — Leave a comment

My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline and do not resent his rebuke, because the LORD disciplines those he loves,  as a father the son he delights in.  – Proverbs 3:11-12

In the syllabus I give to each of my classes, there is a section called “student responsibilities.” Under this title,  I remind every individual in my class that they are responsible for the choices that they make, and for accepting the consequences of those choices prior to making their decisions. For example, if you plagiarize in my class, you receive a zero on an assignment and the administration is notified of the violation to the academic honor code. If you miss class, you are unable to earn participation points. Because I tend to be a planner  (and because I’ve been through several semesters of teaching), included in the syllabus is a pretty thorough list of the choices that students might make and what will happen as a result. The reason I do this, and enforce the policies I’ve outlined, isn’t because I am mean. It’s because (as I tell them) I want them to realize that it’s better for them to learn that there are consequences for their actions in the relative safety of school, then when it “really counts” in their career. In other words, I do it because I care about their future and who they become.

I’m reminded that these are the same reasons that God is consistent with His discipline towards His followers.  His Word has clearly given us the directives for life, and just like Adam and Eve, we are without excuse when we choose to not follow the directions. The fact that at times, we suffer consequences for this disobedience is God’s design of bringing us back to Him.  The hope, just like my hope for my students, is that we will recognize the error of our ways and return to make choices that honor Him.

(A quick note – this isn’t to say that all bad things are punishment for our actions. For more on my take on the “problem of evil”, please click here.)

Which brings me to the point of this little excursion, if the purpose of discipline is to bring me back in alignment with God, then when I recognize that I’m experiencing His correction, shouldn’t my response be one of thanks? He could let me continue along my own, forsaken path, but instead, the consequences He allows, prompt me to return to Him? What is more evidence of His grace that even when I rebel, He desires to bring me back into relationship with Him?

Saying thanks when I receive a godly reprimand isn’t an easy thing to do, but that doesn’t mean it’s not the right thing.

What tips do you have to rightly respond to God’s correction?

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