July Meditations

July 23

2 Chronicles 10

Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him (Proverbs 13:24).

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law (Galatians 5:22-23).

The Scriptures are clear that love requires discipline.  Our Father in heaven disciplines us for our own good, and fathers and mothers to discipline their own children.  As Proverbs 22:5 reminds us, “folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him.”  

If we leave it there, however, we run the risk of great folly ourselves, the folly of Rehoboam.  Seeking advice concerning how to govern his kingdom, Rehoboam was given two paths.  The older men told Rehoboam “if you will be good to this people and please them and speak good words to them, then they will be your servants forever” (10:7).  The younger men, however, advised Rehoboam to rule harshly: “Thus you shall say to them, ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s thighs.  And now, whereas my father laid on you a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke.  My father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions.’”  Rehoboam chose the latter, and lost the kingdom (10:10-11).

Whether speaking of childrearing or ruling a kingdom, it is a great folly to think that stern discipline is sufficient.  It is not.  The wise older men understood something that we need to hear—one only wins the heart thorough love.  A ruler—whether a king or a father—may be able to force compliance, but we will never win the heart.  And if the heart is not won, there will never be peace in the kingdom—or the home.  

Be wary of child training methods that over emphasize discipline and underemphasize love.  Like Rehoboam, if Galatians 5:22—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control—is not the atmosphere of your home, and the character of your leadership, your efforts to discipline will be in vain.  And you may well lose the kingdom.  

 

July 21

Proverbs 19:22

What is desired in a man is steadfast love, and a poor man is better than a liar (Proverbs 19:22).

What characterizes a man of steadfast love?

A man of steadfast love is a courageous man, for courage is, in the end, rooted in love.  What is courage, but the determination to press through, regardless of the cost, for the benefit of another?  What is courage but the determination to self control when faced with temptation?  

A man of steadfast love does not love money.  As the proverb suggests, he would rather be poor than dishonest.  He knows that a man cannot love God and mammon.  Neither can he love his neighbor and mammon.  

A man of steadfast love is a wise man.  Knowing that wisdom is better than riches, he seeks the wisdom that God makes available for those who truly seek it.  

A man of steadfast love is an honest man.  Noteworthy is the manner in which the proverb suggests that the man of steadfast love would choose poverty over deceit.  Not only does a man of steadfast love hate a lying tongue, but he has nothing to hide.  

A man of steadfast love is a man full of the Holy Spirit, for the fruit of the spirit is love.  And there is no genuine love apart from the Holy Spirit, for love comes from God.

In the end, a man of steadfast love is a man in Christ.  He has been loved, and therefore he loves.  He loves Christ because Christ first loved him.  He loves his neighbor because Christ first loved him.  

Who desires steadfast love in a man?  Curiously, there is no subject.  Steadfast love man is simply desired.  Presumably by all.  


PS…  Looking at this proverb, I decided to google “what makes a man a man?” and see what came up.  From the first link, I found the following 8 characteristics, in order: a real man is focused, a real man doesn’t gossip, a real man’s word is his bond, a real man strives to be a role model, a real man makes his own fortune, a real man takes care of his appearance, a real man keeps his house in order, a real man can defend himself.  While I can appreciate all of these things, I found noteworthy the absence of steadfast love.  

 

July 19

1 Chronicles 16

Oh give thanks to the LORD; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples!  Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wondrous works! Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice!  Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually!  Remember the wondrous works that he has done, his miracles and the judgments he uttered, O offspring of Israel his servant, children of Jacob, his chosen ones!  (1 Chronicles 16:8-13). 

These chapters in Chronicles record David, now Israel’s king, establishing Jerusalem as the center of Israel’s life.  Bringing up the ark of the Lord into Jerusalem, David set it in a tent, and then did something interesting: “Then on that day David first appointed that thanksgiving be sung to the LORD by Asaph and his brothers” (1 Chronicles 16:7). 

Apparently David wasn’t content to let the thanksgiving due to the Lord be left to the spontaneity of the people.  Rather, he appointed the Levites “to invoke, to thanks, and to praise the LORD, the God of Israel” (16:4).  With regularity and great ceremony.  In other words, thanksgiving wasn’t left to times when Israel felt thankful.  And it wasn’t neglected when perhaps she did not.  The psalms of thanks given in chapter 16 tell us why—the Lord had done wondrous things for Israel, even in ages past, and taken them as His own covenant people.  God was the same yesterday, today, and forever. 

Thanksgiving is the lifeblood of our relationship with God.  To say it differently, unthankfulness will destroy our relationship with God.  Concerning all mankind, Paul writes that “although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened” (Romans 1:21).  Failure (or refusal) to honor God and to be thankful is the heart of sin, the wages of which is death.  One wonders how the serpent’s temptation in the garden would have fared if Adam and Eve awoke that morning and remembered with thankfulness who the Lord was for them, and what He had given them. 

There is great wisdom in David’s insistence upon the discipline of thanksgiving.  If left to ourselves, we will give thanks when we feel like it, and forget to give thanks when we do not.  But just like in David’s time, in Christ God has done wondrous things for us, and taken us as His own covenant people.  “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32). 

Do you have a disciplined practice of thanksgiving?  I doubt that David installed the worshippers before the ark to give praise and thanks because the Lord needed it.  But we certainly do.