by Pastor Tim Burt
We live in a world where everyone cries for freedom. We also live in a world where no one wants to be told what to do. These two desires are in conflict with each other. They are because the person that gets to do whatever they want will never experience true freedom. True freedom comes with restraint!
Parents want their children to grow up obedient, well-adjusted, and prepared to succeed in this world. Good parents realize that this doesn’t happen in a vacuum. God’s word teaches us that without boundaries—His laws and ways, all human life would end up in chaos. As a matter of fact, we are experiencing that more and more each year. And it’s chaos! And that’s the meaning of Proverbs 29:18 that says “Where there is no divine guidance and insight received from God, the people cast off restraint and run wild, but happy is he who keeps God’s precepts and ways.”
God’s word brings us boundaries and teaches us restraint. There are things God wants us to draw near to that will help us keep us on His path and bring blessing to our lives. There are also things that God wants us to restrain ourself from. Things that would hurt us. Things that would lead us and others astray. Things that produce pain and suffering in our lives. Boundaries are not meant to be confining. To the contrary, they are to be liberating and designed to clearly point us to that which brings blessing and to steer us away from that which could lead to destruction and death.
Dad tells little Johnny not to ride his scooter out into the street. Why? Because he wants to spoil his fun? Of course not! He restrains Johnny because he wants to protect him from harm. Love is a parent’s motive and love is God’s motive also! When children are defiant, consequences are to be executed to change their attitude and heart toward obedience. Proverbs 19:27 NIV warns, “Stop listening to instruction, my son, and you will stray from the words of knowledge.” Proverbs 19:20 NIV exhorts, “Listen to advice and accept instruction and in the end you will be wise.” These are boundaries of obedience and wisdom that protect not just children, but adults alike.
If we love our children, we lay these boundaries down for them. We also model them so they can imitate us over the progression of their lives. If we don’t love them, we let them do whatever they want to. But, that leads them to become unruly and uncontrollable children who have little to no respect for anyone, and eventually hate boundaries. They are headed toward life-long destructive behaviors. That’s why Proverbs 13:24 NIV says that love is discipline. “He who spares the rod (does not follow through with correction) hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.” No parent wants to play the bad guy to their child. No parent wants to hear a child say, “I hate you.” But as long as you execute discipline fairly and kindly—not from angry emotional swings and fits of your own anger, then you can hold your ground until they come around. If we don’t follow through in keeping our children in boundaries and walking in the knowledge and instruction of God’s Word, then we contribute to their destruction. Proverbs 19:18 NIV says, “Discipline your son, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to his death.”
God is the perfect parent to those who will become His children—to you and I. He lets us make choices. But if we do accept to become His through Jesus Christ, then He, as a parent, has the right to discipline us. How does God correct us? He corrects us through His Word. That means we have to embrace His Word and allow it to correct us. Hebrews 12:7-11 NIV teaches us, “Endure correction as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, 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.”
When evil is let loose without restraints, society ends up godless and in chaos! Just like children without discipline and guidance, those who hate restraint lean toward destructive lives. Evil men feel emboldened like a bully on a playground when no one restrains them. Psalms 12:8 NIV says, “The wicked freely strut about when what is vile is honored among men.” Proverbs 9:10 NLT says, “The fear of the Lord is the foundation of wisdom. Knowledge of the Holy One results in good judgment.”
When children grow up, they become you and I. We realize we still make wrong choices. We still see the need for exercising restraint in our lives. We still see the need for authority that speaks into our lives that we yield to. God and His Word is that authority and He disciplines us through His Word. As adults, we generally don’t like to be told what to do all that much. We like our freedom. But freedom is not freedom when it wanders outside the boundaries that God has created and given us to keep us safe. And so we need His discipline. God doesn’t throw lighting bolts. God doesn’t cause hardship and problems. Those come from Satan or from the consequences of our own or other’s bad choices. No, God is the Heavenly Father that gives us His loving touch, His word, His assurance of love, the promise of forgiveness, and the instruction to walk the right path that leads us to blessing. We let His word correct us and we stand our heart in the corner until we’ve changed our attitude. We have a Heavenly Father that is the best and most loving Father we could ever imagine. But His love does include correction, instruction and restraint. And that in turn, brings true freedom! Learn to love and embrace it and it will change you and impact those you influence for good. And it will bless you forever!
Psalms 119:130 (NIV) “The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.”
In His love,
Pastor Tim Burt
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