Discipline is spoken of in Proverbs from multiple perspectives.
1. Quite often, parents are being addressed and instructed to discipline their children:
- Discipline your children, for in that there is hope . . . (19:18).
2. There are also quite a few passages where everyone in general is addressed and encouraged to accept discipline in the spirit in which it is give—to promote our spiritual growth and development.
- Those who disregard discipline despise themselves; but the one who heeds correction gains understanding. (15:32)
- Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise. (19:20)
- Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but whoever hates correction is stupid. (13:18)
These two perspectives are the most common perspectives addressed in Proverbs, but there is at least one more.
3. In 3:11-12 the writer speaks of discipline from God’s perspective:
- 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.
All of this should remind us that when we think about discipline, we can think of it from several different perspectives. There is self-discipline, which is what most adults tend to think about. That is the discipline we impose upon ourselves in order to achieve something.
But it’s also important to think about the advice, counsel, or correction we receive from others and ask ourselves if we are open to accepting that and implementing it in our lives. We all have blind spots and other people who care about us can help us see what we don’t see and make adjustments. Most of us are better at self-discipline than receiving it from others so this can be a challenge.
Finally, there is the discipline of the Lord. I don’t think we have to see this as anything punitive (though it could be if something in our life warranted it). It could be a hardship, trial, or difficult season we’re going through. Whatever it is, God’s purpose is for our good and our growth.
In Hebrews 12, the disciples being addressed are exhorted to “run with perseverance the race marked out for us” just as Jesus did (v. 2-3). They were enduring “opposition from sinners” just as He did (v. 3). They had been struggling valiantly against sin (v. 4) and experienced hardship. He quotes Proverbs 3:11-12 and tells them to “endure hardship as discipline” (v. 7). They were experiencing tough times and told to think of them as part of God’s maturing process. He then tells them,
- God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. (v. 10-11
Whether it is self-imposed, given by others, or part of God’s program for our growth and maturity, the book of Proverbs reminds us—there are no disciples without discipline!