“Behold, happy is the man whom God corrects; Therefore do not despise the chastening of the Almighty. For He bruises, but He binds up; He wounds, but His hands make whole."
(Job 5:17-18 NKJV)
Although we appreciate those who point out our mistakes, our unintended levity, we still remain annoyed. That may be why to date I have yet to meet anyone who takes pleasure in being rebuked. Correction hits our hardest nerve, pride, and provokes a defensive reaction. Those like me who have long been engaged as educators and trainers have had to learn on their own skin instead how healthy it is. Job managed to catch a glimmer of truth in the midst of tremendous physical and emotional suffering, crushed by his friends' accusations, "do not despise the lesson." Any of us in Job's place would have been immensely dismayed since in the smallest problem we struggle to discern a salutary viaticum and are quick to recalcitate or cry injustice. If you are a parent, just as God is with us, do the same with your child, aware that what in the present may seem like a wound is instead a healing that he or she will discover in time. Wanting to be honest, we all continue to struggle daily with corrections and especially with criticism, even criticism directed at us in a constructive spirit. We are convinced that those who direct criticism do not do it out of love, but only to point out a flaw, point out a weakness. In order to grow, we must ignore criticism that proceeds from people motivated by hidden pain, let it flow like rain.
Rather, let us learn to surround ourselves with people who truly love us, those who when they use "the rod and staff" do so to help us grow. Their action will be comforting, giving us security, despite the fact that in the immediate moment it might annoy us. The person I can trust without a shadow of a doubt is my wife, the person who loves me more than anyone else. Having spent most of my years with her I know her well, and she knows me more than anyone else, she sees what animates me and what I strive for, she touches my flaws every day. At first I was convinced that I could not change any aspect of me and that others had to adapt to me. Nothing could transform me-because I didn't want to. I think it was a naive way of shutting myself off from any unwelcome reports that might affect what I thought of myself. Over time I had to reconsider-thanks in part to her-and I learned to let correction cover me constructively, letting the belief that there was nothing wrong with me and that it was always others who were in the wrong. Well could the wise man say that "He who keeps instruction is in the way of life, But he who refuses correction goes astray" (Proverbs 10:17). The same maturity is necessary to receive correction from God and thus follow the path of life without going astray, to the point of declaring "your rod and your staff they comfort me" (Psalm 23:4).
Our defense always comes from a conviction or wound that needs to be healed. Like Jonah under the broom, argue with God as well. If that is not enough enter the cave like Elijah. Keep going until you discover that you have to face the tendency to keep full control of your life, standing on a kind of throne where no one is allowed to sit. This is the time then to come down and allow God to take that seat. If you are ready to trust Him, you will let Him take the helm, you will begin to see the people who love you as allies and no longer as enemies or adversaries to contend with. They are interested in your good and have no intention of doing you any harm. If you are animated by a Christian spirit you will pray for them. Like Job I hope you will discover how much God loves you, and that when he corrects he does so only to heal you. The same goes for those you can trust. Your growth and what little maturity you have achieved are the result of healing from correction. I want you to know that this reflection is a direct result of a life that intends to improve on the directions of Scripture, so I conclude with the words of the writer to the Hebrews, "Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it" (12:11).
Weekly Bible Reading Plan # 05
January 29, Exodus 21-22; Matthew 19
January 30, Exodus 23-24; Matthew 20:1-16
January 31, Exodus 25-26; Matthew 20:17-34
February 01, Exodus 27-28; Matthew 21:1-22
February 02, Exodus 29-30; Matthew 21:23-46
February 03, Exodus 31-33; Matthew 22:1-22
February 04, Exodus 34-35; Matthew 22:23-46