"Don't, dear friend, resent God's discipline; don't sulk under His loving correction. It's the child He loves that God corrects; a father's delight is behind all this"
- Proverbs 3:11-12 MSG
My husband, Joe, has experienced some significant heart problems since he had a heart attack several years ago. He has been under the care of physicians, who perform regular tests and exams in order to keep track of his heart function. Things seemed to be going smoothly and uneventfully in regard to Joe's medical care, until two of his doctors disagreed about the results of one of his tests. One doctor was alarmed by the condition of one of Joe's heart valves, and the other insisted that there was nothing to be concerned about. My husband's natural reaction was to take the word of the more laid-back doctor, and to go about his business as usual. As the months went by, and more tests were taken, the more conservative doctor warned Joe that he was at risk for sudden heart failure. All this time, I was urging my husband to get another opinion, and when he finally relented, his fears were confirmed. He needed to have open heart surgery to repair his failing valve. Before he made a date for his operation, he ditched his former doctors, and began seeing new ones he could rely on. Joe told me and everyone who would listen, "I don't need a doctor who will tell me what I want to hear - I need a doctor who will tell me the truth!"
This experience taught my family and me the value of hearing and heeding the truth. While it's not our nature to want to listen to warnings or correction, doing so can profit us greatly. The Bible has a lot to say about this subject, because it's God's desire that we live life at its very best. Psalm 21:1 (NIV) says: "Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but whoever hates correction is stupid." Why is it just plain stupid to hate correction? Because many times, the Lord will speak through His Spirit, His Word, and other people in an attempt to steer us away from making costly mistakes. God doesn't wait until we are standing at the edge of a cliff, about to fall off, before He sends us warnings. He begins dealing with us as soon as He senses that we are headed in the wrong direction. If we are wise, we will seek His guidance, and be sensitive and obedient to His leading, as He attempts to direct and REdirect our steps.
There are some definite things we can do to make ourselves sensitive and open to divine direction and correction. We can renew our minds by regularly reading, praying, and meditating on God's Word. And we can train ourselves to be more God-inside-minded. Because we are constantly surrounded and bombarded with wrong messages from the world, it is all too easy to forget and ignore the fact that the Spirit of Truth lives on the inside of us, and He is always available to give us guidance when we seek it. Also, by choosing godly companions who believe and follow the Word of God, we make it easier for the Lord to direct and speak to us through others. Proverbs 27:6 (NLT) says: "Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy." Your real friends will tell you the truth, even when it is painful to hear, because they will not be able to idly stand by while you consider or do things that can harm you. What if you are the one who sees a friend or loved one heading for trouble? "He who rebukes a man will in the end gain more favor than he who has a flattering tongue," says Proverbs 28:23 (NIV). If you have chosen your friends wisely, they will eventually thank you for your honesty, because they will see the wisdom and the love in it. Even if you never regain their favor, you can count on receiving God's favor, along with His rewards for honoring His will.
In His Word, the Lord urges us again and again to be receptive to His direction and correction. "My child, don't ignore it when the Lord disciplines you, and don't be discouraged when He corrects you. For the Lord corrects those He loves, just as a father corrects a child in whom He delights." (Proverbs 3:11-12 NLT) If every time you sense God's corrective hand upon your life, you see it as a demonstration of His love and affection, you will be more likely to remain open to His leadership. Today, allow King David's words of wisdom to sink into your mind and heart, so that you may apply them to your life, and receive all the good things God has in store for you: "Let the godly strike me! It will be a kindness! If they correct me, it is soothing medicine. Don't let me refuse it"! (Psalm 141:5 NLT)
Prayer: Lord, don't ever let me reject the guidance and correction You send my way. Help me to always see them as an extension of Your deep love and concern for me. Remove from me any stubbornness or hardheartedness, and give me a tender heart and a tender conscience bent toward Your will. Thank You that as I seek Your guidance and follow Your lead, I will experience Your very best in every area of my life!
- J. M. Farro