“My sons . . . listen to discipline and become wise.”—PROVERBS 8:32, 33.
1. How can we find wisdom, and how will it help us?
WISDOM comes from Jehovah, and he generously shares it with others. We read at James 1:5: “If any one of you is lacking in wisdom, let him keep asking God, for he gives generously to all and without reproaching.” One way we find wisdom is by accepting God’s discipline. Doing so protects us from doing things that are wrong and helps us remain close to Jehovah. (Proverbs 2:10-12) And we will have the wonderful hope of everlasting life.—Jude 21.
2. How can we learn to love God’s discipline?
2 Because we are imperfect or because of how we were raised, it is sometimes difficult to accept discipline or see it as something good. But when we experience the benefits of God’s discipline in our life, we understand just how much he loves us. Proverbs 3:11, 12 tells us: “My son, do not reject the discipline of Jehovah.” Then it says: “For those whom Jehovah loves he reproves.” We can be sure that Jehovah wants what is best for us. (Read Hebrews 12:5-11.) Because God knows us so well, his discipline is always appropriate and exactly what we need. In this article, we will discuss four aspects of discipline: (1) self-discipline, (2) the discipline parents should give their children, (3) the discipline we receive in the congregation, and (4) something that is worse than any pain from discipline.
WHY ARE WE WISE IF WE DISCIPLINE OURSELVES?
3. How does a child develop self-discipline? Give an example.
3 If we have self-discipline, we control the way we behave and think. We are not born with self-discipline, but we have to learn it. For example, when a child learns to ride a bicycle, one of his parents usually holds the bicycle to keep it steady. But, in time, the child learns how to stay on the bicycle, and the parent can let go of it for a few seconds at a time. When the parent is sure that the child will stay on the bicycle, he can let go of it completely. In a similar way, when parents patiently train their children “in the discipline and admonition of Jehovah,” they are helping their children to develop self-discipline and wisdom.—Ephesians 6:4.
4, 5. (a) Why is self-discipline an important part of “the new personality”? (b) Why should we not become discouraged even if we make mistakes?
4 The same is true of people who come to know Jehovah when they are adults. Although they may have some self-discipline, they are not mature Christians yet. But when they start putting on “the new personality” and trying to be like Christ, they become more mature. (Ephesians 4:23, 24) Self-discipline helps us learn “to reject ungodliness and worldly desires and to live with soundness of mind and righteousness and godly devotion amid this present system of things.”—Titus 2:12.
5 However, we are all sinful. (Ecclesiastes 7:20) So if we make a mistake, does it mean that we do not have enough self-discipline or maybe none at all? Not necessarily. We learn at Proverbs 24:16: “The righteous one may fall seven times, and he will get up again.” What will help us to “get up again”? Not our own strength, but God’s spirit. (Read Philippians 4:13.) The fruitage of that spirit includes self-control, which is very similar to self-discipline.
6. How can we become better students of God’s Word? (See opening picture.)
6 Prayer, Bible study, and meditation will also help us to develop self-discipline. But what if studying the Bible is difficult for you or you do not like studying? Do not be discouraged. If you let him, Jehovah will help you to “form a longing” for his Word. (1 Peter 2:2) Ask Jehovah to help you discipline yourself so that you can find the time to study the Bible. Perhaps you can begin by studying for just a few minutes at a time. Gradually, it will become easier and more enjoyable to study. You will love the quiet times you spend meditating on Jehovah’s precious thoughts.—1 Timothy 4:15.
7. How can self-discipline help us to reach our goals in Jehovah’s service?
7 Self-discipline helps us to reach our goals in Jehovah’s service. For example, one father felt that he was losing his zeal, so he set the goal of becoming a regular pioneer. How did self-discipline help him? He read articles in our magazines about pioneering and prayed about it. Doing this made his relationship with Jehovah stronger. He also auxiliary pioneered when he could. He did not allow anything to stop him; instead, he stayed focused on his goal. After some time, he became a regular pioneer.
RAISE YOUR CHILDREN IN THE DISCIPLINE OF JEHOVAH
8-10. What can help parents raise their children to serve Jehovah? Give an example.
8 Jehovah has given parents the responsibility to raise their children “in the discipline and admonition of Jehovah.” (Ephesians 6:4) This is very difficult to do in today’s world. (2 Timothy 3:1-5) When children are born, they do not know right from wrong, and their conscience is untrained. So they need discipline to train it. (Romans 2:14, 15) One Bible scholar explained that the Greek word translated as “discipline” could also mean “child development,” or raising a child to be a responsible adult.
9 When parents discipline their children with love, the children feel safe. They learn that freedom has limits and that everything they do in life has consequences. So it is very important for Christian parents to rely on Jehovah’s wisdom to help them raise their children. Ideas about raising children are different depending on where a person lives, and these ideas keep changing. However, parents who listen to God do not have to guess about what they should do or rely on the experience or ideas of humans.
10 We can learn from the example of Noah. When Jehovah told him to build the ark, Noah did not know how to do it. He had to rely on Jehovah, and we read that he did “just so,” or just as Jehovah told him. (Genesis 6:22) What was the result? The ark saved the lives of Noah and his family! Noah was also a successful parent. Why? Because he trusted in God’s wisdom. Noah taught his children well and was a good example for them, which was not easy in that wicked time before the Flood.—Genesis 6:5.
11. Why should parents work hard to train their children?
11 If you are a parent, how can you do “just so”? Listen to Jehovah. Let him help you raise your children. Use the advice from his Word and his organization. Later on, your children will probably thank you for doing so! One brother wrote: “I am filled with gratitude for the way my parents raised me. They did their best to reach my heart.” He says that it was his parents who helped him to draw close to Jehovah. Of course, even when parents do all they can to teach their child, the child may still leave Jehovah. But a parent who has tried his best can have a good conscience and can hope that one day his child will return to Jehovah.
12, 13. (a) If a child is disfellowshipped, how do parents show that they obey God? (b) How did one family benefit from the parents’ obedience to Jehovah?
12 For some parents, one of the most difficult tests of obedience comes when a child is disfellowshipped. A sister whose disfellowshipped daughter left home admits: “I looked for loopholes in our publications so that I could spend time with my daughter and my granddaughter.” But her husband kindly helped her to see that they were no longer responsible for their daughter and that they needed to be loyal to Jehovah.
13 Some years later, the daughter was reinstated. The mother says: “Now she calls or texts me nearly every day! And she deeply respects my husband and me because she knows that we obeyed God. We have a wonderful relationship.” If your son or daughter has been disfellowshipped, will you “trust in Jehovah with all your heart”? Will you show Him that you “do not rely on your own understanding”? (Proverbs 3:5, 6) Remember, Jehovah’s discipline shows us how wise he is and how much he loves us. Never forget that he gave his Son for all humans, and that includes your son or daughter. God wants everyone to get eternal life. (Read 2 Peter 3:9.) So parents, continue to trust that Jehovah’s discipline and guidance are right, even when being obedient is painful. Listen to God’s discipline, and do not fight against it.
IN THE CONGREGATION
14. How do we benefit from Jehovah’s instruction that “the faithful steward” gives us?
14 Jehovah promised to care for, protect, and teach the Christian congregation. He does so in several ways. For example, he appointed his Son to care for the congregation, and Jesus assigned a “faithful steward” to provide spiritual food to help us stay faithful. (Luke 12:42) That “steward” gives us valuable instruction, or discipline. You can probably think of times that a talk you heard or an article you read in one of our magazines helped you to change how you think or act. You can be happy that you have made those changes, because it means that you are allowing Jehovah to discipline you.—Proverbs 2:1-5.
15, 16. (a) How can we benefit from the work of the elders? (b) How can we make the elders’ work more pleasant for them?
15 Christ also provided elders to take loving care of the congregation. The Bible calls these brothers “gifts in men.” (Ephesians 4:8, 11-13) How can we benefit from the work of the elders? We can imitate their faith and good example, and we can follow the counsel they give from the Bible. (Read Hebrews 13:7, 17.) The elders love us and want us to draw closer to God. If they notice that we are missing meetings or losing our zeal, they will quickly try to help us. They will listen to us and then give loving encouragement and wise counsel from the Bible. Do you view their help as evidence that Jehovah loves you?
16 Remember that it may not be easy for the elders to give us counsel. How do you think the prophet Nathan felt when he had to speak to King David after the king tried to hide his serious sin? (2 Samuel 12:1-14) How did the apostle Paul feel when he had to counsel Peter, one of the 12 apostles, for treating Jewish Christians better than non-Jewish ones? It took courage for Paul to do that. (Galatians 2:11-14) So how can you make it easier for the elders to give you counsel? Be humble, thankful, and easy to talk to. See their help as evidence of God’s love. You will benefit, and the elders will enjoy doing their work.
17. How did the elders help one sister?
17 One sister says that things that happened to her in the past made it hard for her to love Jehovah, and she became very depressed. She says: “I knew that I had to talk with the elders. They did not berate me or criticize me, but they encouraged me and strengthened me. After every congregation meeting, no matter how busy they were, at least one of them would ask how I was. Because of my past, I found it difficult to feel worthy of God’s love. Time and time again, however, Jehovah has used the congregation and the elders to confirm his love for me. I pray that I will never let him go.”
WHAT IS WORSE THAN ANY PAIN FROM DISCIPLINE?
18, 19. What is worse than any pain from discipline? Give an example.
18 Discipline may be painful, but the results of rejecting God’s discipline are even more painful. (Hebrews 12:11) We can learn from the bad examples of Cain and King Zedekiah. When God saw that Cain hated his brother and wanted to kill him, he warned Cain: “Why are you so angry and dejected? If you turn to doing good, will you not be restored to favor? But if you do not turn to doing good, sin is crouching at the door, and its craving is to dominate you; but will you get the mastery over it?” (Genesis 4:6, 7) Cain rejected Jehovah’s discipline, murdered his brother, and suffered terrible consequences for the rest of his life. (Genesis 4:11, 12) If Cain had listened to God, he would not have experienced so much pain.
19 Zedekiah was a weak and wicked king. When he ruled, the people of Jerusalem were in a bad situation. The prophet Jeremiah warned Zedekiah over and over again that he needed to change. But the king rejected Jehovah’s discipline, and the results were tragic. (Jeremiah 52:8-11) Jehovah does not want us to suffer such unnecessary pain!—Read Isaiah 48:17, 18.
20. What will happen to those who accept God’s discipline and to those who reject it?
20 Today, many in the world make fun of God’s discipline and ignore it. But soon, anyone who rejects God’s discipline will suffer painful consequences. (Proverbs 1:24-31) So let us “listen to discipline and become wise.” As Proverbs 4:13 says, “hold on to discipline; do not let it go. Safeguard it, for it means your life.”