Disciplining for Wisdom - Part 2
Go with me, please, to the book of Titus. New Testament. This is a letter written by the Apostle Paul to Titus, whom Paul had left as his representative on the island of Crete.
And on the message we get from the letter is that while salvation comes by faith alone, Christianity should never involve faith alone. There should be a transformed life as a result. That’s what Paul wants Titus to emphasize to the people.
The church of Crete was being attacked by men who appeared to be godly and holy, but chapter 1, verse 16 tells us what they’re really like.
They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.
So, in response to that threat and that evil influence, Paul tells Titus, chapter 2, verse 1: But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine.
He’s not just making sure he teaches good doctrine. He’s instructing Titus to teach the practical outworking of that doctrine as well. Tell the people that their conduct should match their calling.
And so, in verses 2-10 of chapter 2, you get a list of virtues for older men, older women, younger women, younger men, and slaves. This is what the truth of Jesus Christ should look like in everyday life.
And he wraps that up with a summary of the Christian life. These are like the central verses of the letter to Titus. Why should people live like this? Titus 2:11
11For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people,
God’s grace has come to us. But verse 11 isn’t the end. Grace didn’t just bring salvation to us. It has an ongoing function as well. Look at verse 12. This is what grace does. It trains us. It instructs us.
The Greek verb there is paideuo. And it predominantly referred to the training of a child. Paideuo sounds a little bit like our word Pediatrics, and that’s because they share the same Greek root, meaning child.
Well, depending on the context, paideuo could be translated: train, teach, educate, instruct, chastise, punish, or correct. It’s not simply one way of teaching. It’s talking about entire system of molding the life and character of a child. That is discipline.
I mentioned it last week, but true, biblical discipline includes preparation through instruction. It includes the pain of correction. And it includes the compassion of protection. That’s how God trains, or disciplines His children, and it’s how we are to train our own.
Going back to verse 12, notice how God’s grace trains us. What is it training us to do?
12training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.
That’s God’s goal for your life and my life. That’s what He’s moving us toward. People walking in holiness, set apart from the world, trusting in Christ for a future salvation, and working for good works. Working for godliness in everything. That is God’s goal for His people, and it was Paul’s goal as well.
Nobody wrote the Bible just so they could write instructions to a future generation. The authors wrote to motivate their hearers to faithfulness. To instruct them and train them.
And maybe the clearest expression of that is Proverbs, written by a dad to train his son and the future generations.
We’ve been studying this topic of discipline in the Proverbs, and the three main lessons we pointed out last week were: (#1) We need to be pursuing personal discipline. We need to have a heart that receives wisdom. (#2) If we don’t receive wisdom, there will be consequences. There will be pain. And (#3), we need to be discipling or training others. The church word for that is discipleship.
So those are the three lessons I’ve grouped the Proverbs into. And you can refer back to the handout I gave last week.
For today, we’re going to continue that study in Proverbs 11. It might feel a little choppy, but that’s okay. That’s Proverbs’ style. And I think all the verses we’ll look at today fall under that broad idea of discipline and training.
So, do your best to hang with us in your Bibles. And if a verse seems to sort of jump out at you, make a note of that.
But we’re basically going to be saying the same thing from different angles. Kids, young ones, pursue discipline. Receive wisdom. Otherwise, there will be consequences. And parents, learn to discipline your child well. Be faithful to train them.
Let’s continue our study. Proverbs chapter 11, verse 29. Whoever troubles his own household will inherit the wind, and the fool will be servant to the wise of heart.
This is a very direct warning about the foolishness of rejecting wisdom. Inheriting the wind is like being cut out of the will. The fool doesn’t get a portion of his father’s wealth, instead he becomes a slave. Not a good result.
The world will try to convince you that there are easy but foolish ways to move ahead in life. But God says, “No.” Pursue wisdom. Don’t trouble your household with foolishness.
The motivations to pursue and receive wisdom continue in chapters 12 and 13. Look first at Proverbs 12, verse 1. Proverbs 12:1—Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.
That’s a strong word, right? Stupid. The Hebrew word is connected to the word for a beast or an animal. Animals don’t think straight. They don’t reason like we do. They don’t understand what we understand. They’re stupid.
Have you ever watched a video or see one of your own animals, and said: “Stupid dog. Stupid cat. Stupid fish.” They don’t always do stupid things, but they’re definitely more likely to.
Well, if you hate reproof, if you ignore the instruction or correction given to you by God or a Christian friend, or your parents, God’s word says, “you’re being stupid.” Don’t let that be you.
Skip down to verse 15. The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.
If all that happens, as a result of our study in Proverbs, is that our kids stop saying “I know,” we will have done something amazing. Don’t you think? We all think we know. But wisdom is listening to the advice of others.
Go now to Proverbs 13:1. Same idea. A wise son hears his father's instruction, but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke.
Just one more reminder to all of us. Don’t be a scoffer. Listen to your parents.
Verse 10—By insolence comes nothing but strife, but with those who take advice is wisdom.
Insolence is another word for arrogance. It’s a pride that expresses itself with a derogatory and combative tone. True wisdom is not combative. It doesn’t produce strife. It’s peaceful. And it takes advice from others.
Now look at verses 13 and 14. Whoever despises the word brings destruction on himself, but he who reveres the commandment will be rewarded. 14The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life, that one may turn away from the snares of death.
Honor the word. Don’t despise it. That’s how blessing comes. This book is the fountain of life. It will preserve you if you follow it.
Here’s a very practical question: How motivated are you to get here on Sunday morning? How much do you anticipate sitting with others and learning from God’s word? And then, during the week, how much are you learning from it.
And parents, what are we doing to teach our children the Bible. Sunday morning classes teach kids, but if anything, that should be supplemental. It should be reinforcing what they are learning from Christian parents. The teaching of the wise is the teaching of the word.
And that can be as complex as taking your family through a devotional or a theological book or a book of the Bible. Or it can be as simple as going out to lunch after church and asking them what they learned. But that’s our calling as parents. To teach our children from the fountain of life.
And again, if you’re a son or a daughter, you need to learn to listen. Let it sink into your life. Proverbs 13:18. Poverty and disgrace come to him who ignores instruction, but whoever heeds reproof is honored.
You don’t avoid public shame by learning to be shameless. You avoid shame by listening to the will of God. That’s what brings honor. And that’s what we parents want to instill in our kids.
Skip down now to verse 24. This is a verse that has caused a lot of debate. Proverbs 13:24—Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.
We started talking about the rod last week. It was an instrument of correction. And it was also a symbol of authority.
Now, recently the American Academy of Pediatrics released a statement entitles “Effective Discipline to Raise Healthy Children.” It came out this month.
It starts by recognizing that pediatricians are a source of information for parents, even on the topic of discipline. Most pediatricians, according to the article, do not endorse spanking.
Spanking, as the AAP defines it, is the “non-injurious, open-handed hitting with the intention of modifying child behavior.” So, in the way they define it, spanking is using your hand to swat a child.
Well, to begin with that’s different than what the Bible is talking about here. Proverbs calls it a rod. It is an instrument that also functions as a symbols of authority. So we’re already talking about two different things.
You know, there is a lot in that article that I agreed with. It talked about the term discipline, and how it’s much broader than punishment. And how our goal is not just behavior modification.
But what I think is unbiblical is this idea that the best discipline will involve no pain whatsoever. What it ultimately comes down to though is our view of mankind and our view of God.
Our decisions have to based on conviction and God’s word, not on popular opinion, and not on perceived external outcomes.
The main thrust of the article is that most of the world doesn’t do it, and that it doesn’t work, because kids keep disobeying. But again, their definition of spanking is different than Proverbs’, and they isolate the act itself rather than place it in the context of a culture and a tone of love and grace and self-control. The article basically equates spanking with child abuse.
I would recommend to you Ted Tripp’s book Shepherding a Child’s Heart. That’s a great book on how to train and teach our children and there are two chapters in there dedicated to understanding what Proverbs means by the rod.
Here’s what he writes: “If children are born ethically and morally neutral, then they don’t need correction; they need direction. They do not need [corrective] discipline. they just need instruction.”
Kids do need information and direction. They need to be taught and guided. Kids, like all of us are born sinners. I had a seminary professor who referred to them as vipers in diapers.
That doesn’t mean that children are pure evil. It means that they do not have the innate desire to glorify God. They live for themselves.
Jeremiah 17:9—The heart is deceitful and desperately wicked.
And you can’t just talk that out of them. Eventually we’ll get to Proverbs 22:15. Here’s what is says: Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him.
They are a danger to themselves, not just in this life, but for eternity. They don’t fear God. They don’t naturally submit to authority in humility. So, how can a message get through to them?
It’s been said that a smile is a universal language. And that’s probably true. But so is pain. Nobody likes pain. They want to avoid it if they can.
Let me quote Dr. Tripp again: “This places the rod in its proper setting. Use of the rod is not a matter of an angry parent venting his wrath upon a small, helpless child. The rod is wielded by a faithful parent, recognizing his child’s dangerous state, employing a God-given remedy. The issue is not a parental insistence on being obeyed. The issue is the child’s need to be rescued from death—the death that results from rebellion being left unchallenged in the heart.”
Pain, especially if it’s sharp yet temporary, is an amazing teacher. My wife and I bought a set of steak knives almost two years ago. The brand was recommended by some cooking company, and we had just moved into our house, so we needed some.
Well, they were sharp. I started using them to dice tomatoes. And pretty soon, I sliced my finger. And it hurt. And I told my wife, and I made a mental note to be more careful. And about a week later, I sliced myself again. For being careless. But I learned my lesson. Because pain gets your attention.
That’s what happens when you touch a hot iron for the first time. Your brain makes a note of it.
Now, I’m not saying use a knife or an iron to discipline your kids. I’m just making the point that pain can be especially instructive.
The rod is not the only form of discipline. And some kids will require it more than others. But a wise parent should never say, “I would never cause my child pain.” Because God never says that.
Again, Hebrews 12 tells us that God uses temporary pain or discomfort to mold us for our good and His glory. And a physical punishment, again, in only one component of a life of discipline. More than anything our homes should be a place of love and instruction and grace. But in times of obstinance or defiance, in times of clear high-handed sin, God tells us that it’s wise to use the rod.
In the book ,Paul Tripp give this definition of the rod: “The rod is a parent, in faith toward God and faithfulness toward his or her children, undertaking the responsibility of careful, timely, measured, and controlled use of physical punishment to underscore the importance of obeying God, thus rescuing the child from continuing in his foolishness until death.”
I think that’s a great definition to unpack. And Ted Tripp does just that in one of his chapters. And he reminds us that the rod is never something that gives a parent the right to hurt a child in uncontrollable anger. It doesn’t give you the right to hit your child whenever you want. It’s not a way to vent your frustration. It’s not payback to the kid or humiliate him. Our children should not equate the rod with our anger. They should equate it with their disobedience. And it’s particularly aimed at the younger years.
Ted Tripp shares the story of a time he had his back turned to someone and he overheard a sincere female voice, emphasizing every syllable. Here’s what he heard: “Honey, you know what Mommy said and you did not obey Mommy. And now, I’ll have to spank you. You know, Dear, I’m not mad at you, but you must learn to obey.”
There was no response. And when he turned around he realized that the reason there was no response was because the baby was only a doll. And the “mommy” was a 4-year old. She was training her doll in the way her Mommy trained her. And she was imitating her mom’s clarity and grace. This is a parent in control.
And when followed by a hug and an affirmation, the rod communicates to the child how much you love him, and how much it grieves you to do it. It is an act of restoration, not an act of retribution.
And, even if the pain isn’t physical, like when kids get to be teenagers, and we discipline them in a different but appropriate way, we still need to make sure they understand it’s about loving them and protecting them. It’s not Mom or Dad venting their anger.
Going back to the verse, Proverbs 13:24, refusing to correct our discipline is not loving. It’s a hateful act. And our love should compel us to train them faithfully, even when our laziness would prefer not to. Because we want to teach them that disobedience brings consequences.
And continuing this theme, let’s move ahead now to Proverbs 14:3. By the mouth of a fool comes a rod for his back, but the lips of the wise will preserve them.
I think that was has gotten me in trouble with authority more than anything else, is my mouth. James tells us that the tongue is a fire and a poison. And if we don’t learn to control, we might be headed for some serious consequences.
Why is it so easy to run our moths sometimes? Part of it, I think is the belief that nothing bad will happen. There is not a healthy fear of God. That’s pride. Look at Proverbs 14:16—One who is wise is cautious and turns away from evil, but a fool is reckless and careless.
Don’t flirt with sin. Pursue wisdom. Receive instruction. And stay away from sin. Go the opposite direction.
You know, a disobedient fool, as arrogant as he may seem, lives in constant fear. He doesn’t know when he might be caught, when his past will catch up to him.
But look at Proverbs 14:26. This is the blessing of wisdom. In the fear of the Lord one has strong confidence, and his children will have a refuge.
Parents, if we are discipling our children correctly, and if we are modeling a fear of God in your life, they will live with confidence. They will have structure and reliability. Home will be a safe place, not a place to run from.
Let’s do one final Proverb from chapter 14. Proverbs 14:33—Wisdom rests in the heart of a man of understanding, but it makes itself known even in the midst of fools.
There are two different ways to take this Proverbs. And both are helpful to the idea of discipline.
The first way to understand this Proverb is that it’s saying that wisdom is truly at home in the heart of a wise person, but even among fools, wisdom makes itself known.
If that’s what it means, then the lesson is for us younger ones who need to be learning wisdom. It means, like we’ve seen before in Proverbs, wisdom is universally accessible. There are no excuses for not pursuing it. The only reason someone isn’t growing in wisdom is because they do not want to. And that’s foolishness.
The other way to take this Proverbs is to mean that a wise person doesn’t flaunt his knowledge, while a fool will. If that’s the intent, then the lesson for us, parents especially, is that discipline is not about trying to impress your kids with how much you know. It’s about serving them and instructing them, not serving your own ego.
It takes wisdom to be a teacher. And we can all improve in that regard. Look with me at Proverbs 15:2—The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouths of fools pour out folly.
The NASB says the wise tongue “makes knowledge acceptable.” Parents, isn’t it to frustrating when you tell your kids something about a thousand times, but then someone else tells your kids the exact same thing once, and they get it. Wisdom makes knowledge into something good, something that gets received.
So, parents, let’s learn from one another, and even learn from our children how to teach wisdom better.
But again, kids, even if you’re parents aren’t the greatest communicators, we’ve still got Proverbs 15:5—A fool despises his father's instruction, but whoever heeds reproof is prudent.
And, going back to parents, verse 7. The lips of the wise spread knowledge; not so the hearts of fools.
And as another reminder of the pain of disobedience, we have Proverbs 15:10—There is severe discipline for him who forsakes the way; whoever hates reproof will die.
I hope this all sounds repetitive to you, because that’s the goal of Proverbs—to repeat the same messages over and over again, in the hopes that it will stick. Don’t ignore wisdom. Don’t walk away from the path God has laid out for us.
And wrapping up our time in chapter 15, we come to verses 32 and 33. Whoever ignores instruction despises himself, but he who listens to reproof gains intelligence. 33The fear of the Lord is instruction in wisdom, and humility comes before honor.
Be humble. Be teachable. Don’t ignore the instruction of God and others. That’s the attitude that will bring God’s blessing and honor in your life.
Look over now at Proverbs 16:22— Good sense is a fountain of life to him who has it, but the instruction of fools is folly.
That second line could be talking about the foolishness taught by fools, or it could be a reference to trying to teach wisdom to a fool. Both are unwise.
Don’t listen to fools. Listen to those who are wise in Christ. And don’t be that unteachable fool, wasting someone else’s time. Again, that attitude has consequences.
Proverbs 17:2— A servant who deals wisely will rule over a son who acts shamefully and will share the inheritance as one of the brothers.
Maybe you’ve seen this in real life. A faithful employee inherits the company, while the owners son ends up as an employee. Why? Because whether or not you’re related to someone won’t always override the power of foolishness and wisdom.
Let me finish up chapter 17, and we’ll stop here for today. We’ve got three more verses in the chapter, and they are all helpful to us who instruct, us teachers and elders and parents.
We’ve got Proverbs 17:6, 10, and 24. Verse 6—Grandchildren are the crown of the aged, and the glory of children is their fathers.
Verse 10— A rebuke goes deeper into a man of understanding than a hundred blows into a fool.
And verse 24—The discerning sets his face toward wisdom, but the eyes of a fool are on the ends of the earth.
Dads, moms, don’t we want a peaceful and joyful family? For this generation and the next? If so, we need to start laying that foundation right now. I heard an old Chinese proverbs that says: “One generation plants the seeds; another enjoys the shade.”
That’s the view we need to have for our families. We want a joyful relationship with our grandkids and with our kids. We want our children to grow up honoring us. We will be their glory. They should thank us, not be upset for all the lessons we didn’t give them.
One time, we as elders were talking about raising teenagers, and someone said: “Don’t parent a 15-year old in order to make him happy. Parent him so that when he’s 25, he’ll thank you.” That’s the long game. That’s perspective. Things aren’t going to change all at once, so don’t be in a hurry to change them. Just be faithful today.
And eventually, if you’re son or daughter is wise at an early enough age, corporal punishment won’t even be necessary. Because they will know how to listen and learn. That’s verse 10. Learn to give a good rebuke.
Corporal punishment has its place, but its not a magic wand. So focus on the big picture of parental discipline.
And lastly, verse 24 is a reminder to us. Put wisdom right in front of your face. The fool is looking to all kinds of other things. The fool wants to fast forward himself to the future of some imagined glorious plan. But not wisdom. Wisdom keeps the future in mind, but the focus is always today.
What did Jesus say: Don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will take care of itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Whether you are learning wisdom for yourself, or also trying to pass that wisdom to the next generation, your main focus is today. It’s all one step at a time. So stay faithful. And trust in God for whatever He’s going to do.
Listen to this: God has given you everything you need for right now. God has given you everything you need for right now. He will not give you more than you can handle.
So, in a spirit of dependency, and trusting in Christ, and being zealous for good works, let’s humbly pursue wisdom for ourselves, and let’s faithfully disciple and train the next generation.