PROVERBS - Adventure In Discipline
By Pastor Delbert Young
Life Gate Ministries, January 24, 2010
204 North Main Street, LaFayette, GA 30728
Last time we talked about how Proverbs is about our either pursuing Lady Wisdom, or being seduced by the Whore Folly. Every decision we make in life is attached to Wisdom or Folly. Today, I want to talk to us about an Adventure in Discipline.
Proverbs 1:1-7 These are the proverbs of Solomon, David's son, king of Israel. The PURPOSE OF THESE PROVERBS is to teach people WISDOM AND DISCIPLINE, and to help them understand wise sayings. Through these proverbs, people will receive instruction in DISCIPLINE, good conduct, and doing what is right, just, and fair. These proverbs will make the simpleminded clever. They will give knowledge and purpose to young people. Let those who are wise listen to these proverbs and become even wiser. And let those who understand RECEIVE GUIDANCE BY EXPLORING the depth of meaning in these proverbs, parables, wise sayings, and riddles. Fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge. ONLY FOOLS DESPISE WISDOM AND DISCIPLINE.
The purpose of Proverbs is to teach us not only wisdom, but wisdom and discipline. Wisdom and discipline cannot be separated. Discipline is the primary ingredient in wisdom. Think of people you know who consistently do foolish things. You will see they lack the ingredient of discipline. Proverbs has the potential to change our bad decision making into wise decision making - simpleminded to clever. Proverbs will make the young wise and the wise even wiser. Let's have an adventure today exploring the depth of the necessity of discipline in RECEIVING GUIDANCE to where we want to get in life.
Proverbs 6:23 For these commands are a lamp, this teaching is a light, and THE CORRECTIONS OF DISCIPLINE ARE THE WAY TO LIFE
Wisdom says disciplining our lives is the way - only way - to a good life. It will light your road to a good life. Where do you want to go?
Proverbs 10:17 He who heeds DISCIPLINE shows the way to life, but whoever ignores correction leads others astray.
Discipline must be heeded and those we associate with must be disciplined or they will lead us astray. How many times have you seen people mess up their lives simply because they hung with undisciplined people? It never fails. Run with dogs, you get flees.
Proverbs 13:18 He who IGNORES DISCIPLINE comes to poverty and shame, but whoever heeds correction is honored.
God doesn't make us take discipline seriously, but if we don't, poverty and shame follow. When a person isn't disciplined in their finances, poverty comes. For a person not disciplined in their morals and integrity, shame comes. Actually, if you will look at any area of your life where you are failing, you will find a lack of discipline.
Even though the word "discipline" conjures up negative emotions, discipline is the most effective tool you can have to find a great life. When we think "discipline," we think of a child being punished, or a teen being grounded maybe expelled, or a soldier being yelled at. We think of rigidness and rules, but we need to remember positive images as well. For example, a pilot flying a jet airliner can take you through horrible weather, wind shears and hail bringing you to a safe landing because of his discipline. He endured hundreds of hours in training in a simulator so his skills will stay sharp. Eventually, it will pay off. You can thank his discipline. A successful surgeon has disciplined him or her self to do the procedure. They spent years and hours and hours in the books into the late of night. You don't want an undisciplined surgeon cutting on you. Discipline is not negative. It's positive.
The truth is, a successful person found that discipline brought great rewards though discipline was not pleasurable at the time. A person disciplined in their finances, though not fun back when they wanted to spend, finds they have money later to do much more. Look at any goal achieved by anyone and you will find discipline attributed to the achieving of that goal more than any other force in life.
So, let's break down this thing called discipline so we can grasp it and apply it. The first point we must adventure into is for what purpose do you need discipline? Are your life goals high enough to even make discipline an absolute necessity? If your goals in life are very low, then it's probably not worth your time to sharpen your skills in discipline. I know that sounds insensitive, but many people don't have significant goals in life. You know people like that.
If, however, you want to fulfill your dreams and find a good life, if you want to have a successful marriage, if you want to have some financial security, if you want to grow in the things of God so God can use you, then developing discipline becomes an absolute necessity. You are not going to get from here to there without it. Anyone you know who has done anything with their life is acquainted with discipline. Every athlete, musician, writer, actor, sales person, or leader learned the secret powers of discipline because they had to. They couldn't get where they wanted to go without it. So, are your current goals high enough to require discipline?
Let's take a look at the core of discipline. The thing that makes discipline work is what I will call "delayed gratification." "Delayed gratification" is simply arranging the pleasures of life in such a way to put the pain first, getting it over with, so you can enhance the pleasure later. Here's what I mean. Take a three or four-year old toddler having a birthday. He's given a piece of chocolate cake. He eats the cake first and saves the frosting for last. Get the cake out of the way so the sweet icing can be fully enjoyed. We've all done a little of that. When I was a kid, I ate my vegetables first. I got them out of the way. That child grows older and decides the best way to handle his homework is attack it as soon as he gets home from school. It's tough to sit down and do homework, but delayed gratification says, if I do this now, I will be able to go outside and play later, watch TV, not be panicked in the morning, etc. He grows up, finishes college, and acquires an entry level job. He applies delayed gratification. He establishes a budget. He honors God with his first 10%. He invests in profit sharing every week. He lives within his means for thirty-five years. He has no debt. Retirement time comes and he looks at his retirement fund and finds he has several hundred thousand dollars to enjoy. He moves into his retirement years eating the icing. He goes anywhere he wants and does anything he wants. That's "DELAYED GRATIFICATION."
Delayed gratification works all across the board. Take any area of life you want. How about physical health? It's so difficult to discipline eating habits and watch that weight. It's not fun to exercise or stay busy. It's not fun to get those checkups, colonoscopies, and all that stuff. It's not always fun, but disciplining now makes later possible.
People who eat the frosting first are the people whose lives mess up.
Proverbs 5:11-14 At the end of your life you will groan, when your flesh and body are spent. You will say, "How I hated discipline! How my heart spurned correction! I would not obey my teachers or listen to my instructors. I have come to the brink of utter ruin in the midst of the whole assembly."
The difference of people who look back at life and groan and those who look back at life with joy find discipline made the difference. It's not easy, but it's the difference.
Another component of discipline is what we will call "Advanced Decision Making." We find this clearly in the early parts of Proverbs concerning sexual immorality. The father tells his son to play out in advance while functioning with a non aroused mind what he will do if tempted with sexual sin. Play out all the costs and horrible things that happen. Play out the destruction, the unclean conscience before God and his spouse, damage to the other person, unwanted pregnancies, diseases, etc. Now, flip it and play out all the benefits of sexual purity: clean conscience before God, clean conscience before your spouse, not worried about blowing your family apart or damaging your children and grandchildren, no fear of sexual diseases, no unwanted pregnancies, etc. Think this through before tempted and know how you will respond in ADVANCE.
(TMB) Proverbs 5:8-9 Keep your distance from such a woman; absolutely stay out of her neighborhood. You don't want to squander your wonderful life, to waste your precious life among the hardhearted.
Make your mind up in advance to keep your distance and stay away. Don't even get close. Stay out of the neighborhood. The father warns the son if he waits until he is in the middle of a sensual tempting situation, he will be toast. Is "toast" a Hebrew expression?
Proverbs 6:26 For by means of a whorish woman a man is brought to a piece of bread: and the adulteress will hunt for the precious life.
What wisdom tells us is few people can push away from a powerful temptation unless an ADVANCED DECISION has been made.
Proverbs 6:27-28 Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned? Can a man walk on hot coals without his feet being scorched?
You can't play with fire and not get burned. You've already made your mind up in advance to not dump fiery coals in your lap or walk barefooted on hot coals. In the same way make your mind up in advance to leave fiery situations alone.
Parents, you need to run through life's tempting situations in advance with your children before they get to the temptations of fire. What will they do if approached by a stranger? What will they do when peer pressure offers them drugs? What will your daughter do when she finds herself in a car parked in a dark place with a boy? There's no way they can handle it in the middle of the temptation. They don't stand a chance. They're toast. Build in advance what they will do, what they will say and why, when in this situation comes and you know it is coming. Use children's church and student ministries to add to their foundation. One main reason any of us fall when tempted is we didn't mentally prepare in advance.
Disciplined people set alarm clocks. In advance the night before, they make the decision in advance to get up and prepare for their day. They don't trust themselves to just wake on time. Disciplined people prepare in advance to worship God, to give, to be faithful. They don't wait until Sunday morning to decide if they are going to church or not, or if they are going to worship when they get there, or if they will give. There is too much temptation to keep you away.
We must build our lives on discipline. Here is what I've learned about myself. If I don't discipline myself, I fail. I've learned if I don't have time with God and his word about every 24 hours, I become selfish. I have a short fuse and not much mercy or compassion with people. If I miss my time with God two or three days in a row, I find I'm on a dark wave link. I know this and so I made an advanced decision years ago to spend the first part of my day with God and in his word. I get up, get my coffee, and get to the building. I start my laptop. Sometimes while it is booting, I go into the sanctuary and walk with the Lord. Eventually, I sit down at my desk and begin reading and writing. It's a discipline in my life.
Sermon preparation is the most difficult thing I do, but it's the most important, and it's the most fulfilling. I discipline myself not to only write it, but to share it. I heard someone say once to give your best hours to the most significant thing you do. My best hours are from daylight until about 11 a.m. So, I block out that time. I've disciplined myself to do that for the last twenty-five years.
As I've already mentioned, there's a discipline about assembling together.
Hebrews 10:25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
It's how we exhort and encourage one another. You never know when God will show up at a service and touch your life in a way that changes everything. Most of you could give witness to the fact that on a particular moment sitting in a chair here, God broke through touching and changing your heart. Some of you could take me to the chair you were sitting in when you received Jesus as Lord of your life. Some of you could take me to the chair you were sitting in when God delivered you from a sinful pattern or addiction. You could show me where you were sitting when God spoke to you and healed your broken heart or gave you faith to follow a dream. Going to church was never a Sunday morning decision for our family. It was decided years in advance and we never wavered from it. Today, Judy and I are eating the icing. What will you be eating concerning your children, family, finances, relationship with the Lord, twenty-five years from now? It's determined by disciplines in your life today.
One more thought on discipline. Let's call it the "discipline of Joy." Jesus was the most disciplined person ever, but he took time to have fun walks, seaside campfires, boat trips, wedding celebrations, and overnights with close friends and dinner parties.
Proverbs 17:22 A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.
Proverbs 15:15 All the days of the afflicted are evil: but he that is of a merry heart hath a continual feast.
The Bible doesn't teach us to discipline fun out of our lives. When that happens, it could cause sickness and affliction. For years, Judy and I have planned in advance the discipline of joy. We take a month every year for vacation. It took and takes discipline to make it happen, but it's such a great experience for us both. We also take a few short trips a year. We disciplined our lives back then so we could eat the icing today and all the icing isn't for later.
What are the non negotiable disciplines in your life? Could you make a list? How about marriage? Is divorce an option? How about your finances? Is overspending an option? How about work ethics? Is laying out of work an option? For a disciplined life, you must plan for "delayed gratification." You must make "advanced decisions". And, you must have a "discipline of joy." Don't ignore discipline.
Proverbs 13:18 He who IGNORES DISCIPLINE comes to poverty and shame, but whoever heeds correction is honored.
If you ignore discipline, you will experience a life of ruin. You are seduced by the whore Folly. If you have an adventure with discipline, you will find Lady Wisdom. You are on the path to a good life. Your life will be honored and there is no limit to what God will do for you.