Monday, August 15, 2016

Proverbs 22:15 --- Training for Eternal Glory

Proverbs 22:15 --- Training for Eternal Glory
Folly is bound up in the heart of a child,
    but the rod of discipline drives it far from him.

The Christian view of the discipline of children flows out of its view of human nature.  While we were created in God's image, that image has been greatly marred by the fall of Adam.  Original sin, or as one commentator calls it, "original folly,"[1] is "bound up" in the heart of children.  Only one child has ever been born with an innocent and unblemished nature, and that was our Lord, who was born of a virgin and conceived by the Spirit.  The rest of us come into the world with a sinful nature that is tied tightly to our hearts, like a stain we can't remove or a scar we cannot restore.  Thus, sin has darkened our understanding, sensualized our affections, and perverted our wills.[2]  All sinners are self-willed and guided by their own understanding (Proverbs 3:5), until the Spirit intervenes and makes us receptive to the revealed Word of God.

What can remove the folly of our self-willed, self-trusting, self-loving, autonomous hearts that are "guided and grounded"[3] from within rather than by the Lord and his Word from without?  The Proverbs' answer is the Lord's powerful working in our hearts (notice the two Yahweh proverbs, verses 12 and 14, and royal proverb, verse 11, that precede our proverb), and the heavenly Father's discipline.  Parents and teachers can imitate the Father's discipline, which comes in the form of words and difficult trials, and they are commanded to use the means at their disposal (instruction and discipline).  But ultimately, only the outpouring of the Spirit through the Son can change our hard hearts.  Ultimately, we need a change of heart that desires to have God as our Father, Christ as our Lord, and God's Word as our final authority.

If we do not choose God as our Father, Christ as our Lord, the Spirit as our enabler, and the Word as our rule, the result will be what we see around this particular proverb.  We will deceived by the words of traitors (v. 12), enslaved to false beliefs and sexual immorality (v. 13), lazy and subject to cravings that never ceases (v. 14), and greedy for wealth that cannot last, rather than the true riches of Christ and his blessings (v. 16).  In the end, our lack of discipline from the Father, and a right response to his discipline will kill us, for our portion will be the misery of hell.

How much better it is, then, to commit ourselves into the hands of our heavenly Father and his Son!  How much better it is to commit ourselves to be trained for the purpose of godliness!  How much better it is to learn from Jesus, who gives us rest, and from the Father who teaches us and disciplines us for our eternal good. 

As I write, we are in the midst of the 2016 Summer Olympics.  How happy these athletes are when they compete, and even more, when they win the prize.  We can be in a better training program and compete for a far better prize!  We can train for eternal glory with Christ in heaven.  Won't you put yourself under the heavenly Father's loving discipline of Word and trial, the Son of God's lavish grace, and the Holy Spirit's sweet fellowship?  You will never regret your decision to go for eternal glory!




[1] Ross and Waltke both attribute this phrase to Whybray.
[2] Lawson, Proverbs, 385-386.
[3] The phrase is borrowed from James Mays, Psalms, 43.

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