Read Proverbs 23:13-28
Saying 13 is just spare the rod and spoil the child revisited. It reminds us that discipline is love.
Notice the word usage here: Do not withhold disciple from a child. When we think of withholding something, it is generally something good that we don’t want the child to have.
We withhold dessert until the kid eats all of his broccoli.
We withhold those coveted cell phone privileges until the grades come up.
We withhold watching a favorite television program until her room is clean or his chores or done.
Now to withhold dessert is not to withhold something essential. Believe it or not, I have heard that some kids can actually survive without their phones for 2 or even 3 hours.
But to withhold discipline is to withhold something that is essential.
We would not withhold a toothbrush, or a bath, or water from our children. So too, we must not withhold discipline.
Saying 14 tells us that wisdom not only benefits us, but it makes our parents and our teachers and our Creator happy.
I should call Nike and tell them that I want my slogan back. I am going to attach it to the word ‘wisdom.’ Coming soon to a sports shop near you is my new line of wisdom clothing. It will read:
JUST DO IT!
Saying 15 is one of those all encompassing tidbits of wisdom.
It says don’t long for what you shouldn’t want. The grass may look greener on the other side of the fence, but really it is not.
Don’t crave things we don’t need. Don’t crave getting away with something. Desire the things that bring glory to God.
If God has promised good things for living his way, he will absolutely deliver. Your hope is in the Lord and you will not be disappointed.
Saying 16 is about setting proper goals and avoiding traps. We might use the words focus and commitment.
Once upon a time I used to ask inmates what they would do when they got out of prison. Many just said, “Stay out of trouble and stay out of this place.”
I used to reply, “I’ll see you when you come back.”
That upset a more than a few men who were only a few weeks from getting back to the word.
They would say, “Why you gotta say that to me?”
I answered, it’s a balancing act. You can’t just focus on what you want to stay away from. You have to be aiming at something—a goal that you want to attain. Your life cannot be just about avoiding bad stuff.
Our hearts must be set on the right path, and then we avoid the junk that can mess up our goal.
Saying 17 is something of a blessing. It says that your parents rejoice when you listen and learn. If you have a teachable spirit and learn the right things, you bring joy to your parents.
The blessing is, “May your parents have joy!”
The thought behind the blessing is that their kids gave them reason to be joyful.
Saying 18 takes us back to the beginning of the proverbs, to the adulterous woman. We probably got all we wanted on the subject in these earlier chapters, but this time we see the same pattern used with drunkenness and gluttony.
The proverb says, My son, give me your heart and let your eyes delight in my ways…
The solution is not just in avoiding bad things but to set yourself—body, mind, and spirit on the right course. Focus more on staying the course than on the obstacles on the side of the road.
Once upon a time I went for a week of training at a place called Bill Scott Raceway in West Virginia. We were taught how to drive really fast, make bootleg and J-turns, steal cars, and other fun stuff.
One of the drills we had to master was the swerve to avoid exercise. Orange cones were set up in the center of the track. You approached them head-on at 30-40 miles per hour.
That doesn’t seem very fast unless the instructor at the last minute shouts, “Left” or “Right.”
When that happened, you had to avoid the first cone to the left and then come back and weave through the cones while maintaining your speed.
If you looked at the cones, you could never do it. If you looked only at the space in between the cones, you could zip right through with just a little practice.
Focus on the obstacles, hit the obstacles.
Focus on the right path, drive through the right path.
The summary for these is straightforward.
· Discipline is good. Use it.
· Wisdom is not only good, but it brings joy to our parents when they see it revealed in us.
· The grass is always greener where God says that it is greener.
· Aim between the cones. It’s not enough to know what to avoid, you need to be aiming at something worthwhile.
· Learn the right stuff. Be wise. Make your parents happy.
· The last one is very much like the fourth one on today’s list. Aim between the cones.
Discipline, wisdom, focus on good goals, and the blessing of parents we helped to make happy. We can all live with that sort of direction.