God gave me a wonderful man who has a heart after Him to be my mentor. His name is John Dale Rector. John Dale spent 3 years of his life teaching and training me in the things of the Lord. He taught by precept and by example. He also had his hands full as I was a proverbial bull in a china shop with my zeal that lacked wisdom. Thus John Dale had to spend more than his fair share of time rebuking me for my excesses. Thus he taught me a very important verse of Scripture and had me memorize it early in my walk with the Lord. The verse says, "Let a righteous man strike me, it is a kindness." That particular verse has a lot to do with what today's proverb has to teach us.
I am an advocate for both verbal and corporal punishment. There is a time for rendering blows to fools. One of those times in during childhood where the responsibility of the parent is to train up a child in the way he should go. It is a time where through loving discipline (which includes spanking) a parent seeks to teach a child what he should and should not do. The parent is not trying to dominate the child or to crush his spirit. The parent IS seeking to help a child grasp what is acceptable and unacceptable to God and to society. But the end of that corporal punishment is to train a child to be a young man or woman who knows two things. First he or she knows how to accept rebuke from the Spirit of God. This happens as he or she is walking through life and about to make un ungodly or unwise decision. The Spirit of God then rises up within to remind of Scripture, to offer correction and guidance with the Word. Some times the Spirit just activates our conscience and we are smitten with a bad sense or feeling - or we just know that what we are about to do, or have done, is wrong. What we desire to do with our children (and in training disciples in the church) is to have them be responsive to that rebuke - to that warning from within.
The second way that a parent and discipler wants to train up their charge is to have them be responsive to people who come to them with a word of rebuke. It would be wonderful if everyone who offered such rebuke were being constructive with it - but we all know that is a perfect world and not the real one. The truth is that even non-constructive criticism can be beneficial to us. Therefore we want to be open to all rebuke. The wise thing is to receive the rebuke and be thankful for it. Then take it to the Lord and ask Him to confirm what is in agreement with what He is doing through the Word of God. Then take what God affirms and use it to grow into all the fullness of Jesus Christ in our character and actions. This is how to allow rebuke to go deep within us - rather than just bounce off of us as we reject it outright.
The Scripture tells us that in order for this to happen, we have to be one who has "understanding." This is the ability to discern and perceive truth from error - right from wrong - God from the flesh and the world - the work of the Holy Spirit from the work of the devil. We discern an pay attention to what God saying to us. Because of this we truly understand the will of God - and grow wiser because we have learned to see things from His perspective.
The proverb tells us that this ability to receive rebuke and understanding from goes deeper into us than a hundred blows into a fool. An interesting thing is that God instructed not to give corporal punishment beyond 39 blows at any time. There is the penalty of imprisonment and even the death penalty that is applied by the state to crimes against society. But God knows that a hundred blows as opposed to 39 would not bring wisdom and understanding into a fool. There is a point where no amount of corporal punishment is effective. The fool rejects all of it - verbal rebuke as well as any kind of physical punishment. Thus we know that all that is left to us is intercessory prayer that God will ultimately break the fool and open his heart to begin to understand.
When I read this proverb, I am thankful to those whom God uses to offer rebuke into my life. Let me be perfectly honest that often it is hard to receive the rebuke - and yes, it hurts. But those who wound us can be healers. Remember that when a surgeon does his work he has to injure us before he can take out the cancer that will kill us. We consider the incision made by his knife a good thing - because it is ultimately working healing into our lives. Remember that the next time you receive some verbal surgery through a brother or sister in Christ who loves you. Those words will bring blessing into your life if you receive them and allow God to work through them. If it is hard to remember that - just remember this instead. I'd rather have some verbal surgery - than a hundred blows on my back!
POSTSCRIPT: Recently, individuals have quoted articles from this section and stated that we teach child abuse at Calvary Chapel Jonesboro. To this I feel the need to respond. First, biblically, we are told that if we have a problem with our brother to go to our brother - not the internet - and confront our brother. To date, these individuals have yet to contact me to discuss these things. That should say volumes in itself.
Second, we do not teach child abuse at our fellowship. This blog is an endeavor to teach what is in the Bible for the edification and upbuilding of God's people. Anyone who has been to our fellowship knows that in our classrooms we administer NO physical discipline. We correct with words and with "time outs" and eventually with a report to parents. From our nursery throughout every age group our people are instructed NEVER to administer physical discipline. We believe this right alone belongs to a parent. Even then we teach the following about any application of physical discipline.
Discipline is about the heart of a child. Physical or corporal punishment is ONLY to be administered in a spirit of love for the child. Teaching and loving verbal correction is key - as is prayer for the child's eventual salvation in Jesus Christ. Any physical punishment administered due to anger or rage is out of line and wrong. The parent is to discipline the child with appropriate discipline - not abuse. In the end the child should be taught - and in every circumstance hugged, loved, and prayed with after any physical punishment to assure them of our love. The idea of a "beating" is completely out of step with what the Scriptures are teaching. Instead the idea of loving discipline is intended.