Hard Head, Hard Heart

I rarely like to be told what to do. Who am I kidding, I never like to be told what to do. Do any of us? I used to be intentionally rebellious. The ‘I’m doing exactly what you said I couldn’t do-JUST because you said I couldn’t do it’ kind. But let’s face it folks- that is really just an issue of the heart. When we open our Bibles it’s hard for some of us not to think of it as just a big book of rules. Thou shall not do this and Thou shall not do that-Really, Jesus, Really? The reality is our kind and gentle God does not wish to control us. In fact – He’s given us freedom. He has written a love book of guidelines and how to’s. And do you know where we find freedom? We find it in discipline.

When my sister and I were little we used to get into a lot of trouble for not following directions- usually because we weren’t listening. Whenever we heard, “Alright now I won’t say it again Monie and Whitney – a hard head makes a soft…” we usually knew a whooping would be in the near future if we didn’t cut it out.  

I like to think as we got older we traded in the spankings for speeches. My parents’ favorite line of my adolescent years was “I’m not just saying this for my health.” (You can borrow that from my jar of old folks’ one-liners.) But actually they really weren’t saying these things for their health. They were saying them for mine. So that one day I might be wise enough to recall on the instruction I was given growing up to better my life as an adult.

17 If you help the poor, you are lending to the lord—
and he will repay you!
18 Discipline your children while there is hope.
Otherwise you will ruin their lives.
19 Hot-tempered people must pay the penalty.
If you rescue them once, you will have to do it again.
20 Get all the advice and instruction you can,
so you will be wise the rest of your life.
21 You can make many plans,
but the lord’s purpose will prevail.
22 Loyalty makes a person attractive.
It is better to be poor than dishonest.
23 Fear of the lord leads to life,
bringing security and protection from harm.
24 Lazy people take food in their hand
but don’t even lift it to their mouth.
25 If you punish a mocker, the simpleminded will learn a lesson;
if you correct the wise, they will be all the wiser.
26 Children who mistreat their father or chase away their mother
are an embarrassment and a public disgrace.
27 If you stop listening to instruction, my child,
you will turn your back on knowledge.
28 A corrupt witness makes a mockery of justice;
the mouth of the wicked gulps down evil.
29 Punishment is made for mockers,
and the backs of fools are made to be beaten.
— Proverbs 19:17- 21

In this latter half of the chapter the proverbs teacher tells us to (v.18) discipline your son for in that, there is hope. And later in Hebrews we are reminded that God disciplines those he loves like a father disciplines his son. The reason why we seem to see this repeatedly is because there is something that God wants us to get here. Discipline leads to self control, which in turn leads to freedom. Freedom keeps us from death. When we not only listen but accept instruction from wise counsel we open our hearts and make way for understanding. If our heads are hard against knowledge, insight, and discipline then likewise our hearts will also be hardened and we leave ourselves wide open to deception. Had I continued to rebel for the sake of my pride, I might never know just how much my parents love me and wanted the best possible outcome for my young life. I think our relationship with God is much the same. He wants us to know that He loves us more than anything. He has strategically placed in our lives people with Godly wisdom to help us in the future, and he will chastise us when necessary so that we can understand importance of discipline which leads to a fuller, more free life.

God, forgive us of our rebellion and call out from within us our prideful ways. Help us to understand that some things are only hard for a moment, and that discipline is indeed a good gift. Help us to lend our ear to those who mean us well with wisdom and insight, and give us the strength to discern between worldly and Godly wisdom. Soften our hearts and help us to trust your purpose for our lives. In jesus name we pray, Amen

Simone Seymour