“Apply your heart to discipline and your ears to words of knowledge.” ~ Proverbs 23:12
The key verses in this devotional are Proverbs 13:24, 15:5, and 23:12. These verses follow a logical progression, and if we apply them to our lives, they will make a profound impact on us. Let’s look at each one.
First, we have Proverbs 13:24, which states, “He who withholds his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him diligently.” This is a great verse that has come under intense scrutiny over the years because of the suggestion of corporal punishment or “spanking.” This entirely misses the point because the essence of the verse is about lovingly applying discipline to the lives of our children. I would argue that our culture has failed in lovingly disciplining or nurturing our children. We defer to schools, churches, the government, and even electronic devices to discipline and raise our kids. When that does not work out, we scream long and loud that somebody let us down! God’s Word says it is the parent’s responsibility to nurture and discipline their children. If we truly love our children, we will live the kind of lives that give us the credibility we need to discipline them in a mature, godly manner. That means if you want to be confident in disciplining your child, you need to focus on your personal discipline first. Do you live a truly Godly life? Do you love your children the way Jesus loves you? Do you make your faith in God the center of your home? If you do, disciplining your children will be a natural and normal part of life.
The second part of the progression is found in Proverbs 15:5, which says, “A fool rejects his father’s discipline, but he who regards reproof is sensible.” This verse indicates that the writer was speaking to a more mature man instead of a child. I recall the older I got, the more sense my father’s advice and instruction made to me, especially when I became a father myself. The problem is that we live in a culture that rejects anyone “telling me what to do.” We constantly hear indignant outbursts like “Don’t judge me!” or “I’m a self-made man; nobody tells me what to do.” Where has that attitude gotten us in our culture today? We don’t want to listen to anyone’s discipline, especially the wisdom and discipline of God Himself.
The third passage in this progression is Proverbs 23:12. It says, “Apply your heart to discipline and your ears to words of knowledge.” The bottom line is this: if you want to be a good parent or want to be a mature Christian, then you must be disciplined to learn God’s Word, and you have to be humble enough to listen to words of knowledge and make them part of your life. This is not once a week on Sunday. It is seven days a week. It is a complete commitment to the Lord. If you choose to make this commitment, it will change your life and the life of your family.
Questions for Thought
- Am I consistent in lovingly and biblically disciplining my children? Does my life reflect that I love the Lord and my children?
- Am I personally receptive to biblical discipline and instruction from others who are more spiritually mature than I am? If the answer is no, am I willing to change?
God, I pray that you would help me be receptive to your wisdom and discipline. Search my heart and show me where I need to submit to you. Give me the strength to discipline myself and those under my authority with love and truth. I commit to you every day, Lord. Amen.
Ryland is the Executive Pastor of Ministries at First Baptist Dallas. He believes the church should be the center of our community, operating as a New Testament church to serve as a “home” for thousands of people. Ryland and his wife, Renea, have two married daughters, Shea and Kelsi, and four grandchildren.