What is wisdom?
"Well Johnny," cooed the mother, "you had three cookies already, but if you want this one you can have it, but I think you shouldn't have any more…" One of the strangest phenomenon I have observed is the idea that the child knows best. In the early 60's there was a TV show called "Father Knows Best". Although the show did not match up to the title all the time, it carried the idea that the children just did not see things as well as the father, or mother, in the show. Children just do not have the luxury to know the hall of shame and fame we have experienced. They also lack the capability of seeing the results of their actions five or ten years from now. That is why the Scriptures say, "Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child…" (Proverbs 22:15a) There is an inability to see things in the wide and broad spectrum of things. What child will want to go to bed when there is so much "fun" happening out in the living room. But what parent doesn't know the results of that child staying up late and getting up early the next day? It is only the child's nature to see the short term. They are confined to the limits of foolishness because they are children. The best definition I have heard of wisdom is from Bill Gothard. He says, "Wisdom is seeing things from God's point of view." When you consider the parent child relationship we can readily agree that wisdom is simply having the bigger picture in mind.
You may comment that children are not the only ones who are foolish. That's correct! The adults who are foolish are simply children who have not learned wisdom. It is obvious then that that transition from a life of foolishness to one that is lived wisely just does not occur by chance. The transition requires oversight, conflict of wills, and patient insistence on what is wise and good. Therefore, it requires discipline to bring maturity and freedom from such foolishness. The rest of Proverbs 22:15 says, "The rod of discipline will remove it far from him." From the eye of the foolish one there will be some suffering and humility. They will need to understand the necessity of the process of discipline. From the one who is guiding the child through the process of maturing there will need to be an abundance of love, patience, and wisdom. They will need to have a good understanding of God's purpose in life as well as God's process for taking a foolish heart and making it wise.
How do you impart understanding through discipline?
Many people will try to correct their children. Some don't even bother. Often the argument surrounds the use of corporal versus verbal correction. The truth is that if the child is not given proper understanding for the discipline then corporal correction alone is as bad as no correction.
The disciplinarian needs to keep wisdom on the situation in full view. The disciplinarian must recall God's purpose for our lives when situations call for discipline. The one being disciplined needs to pay full attention to what is said and what happens. Eventually they will need to learn to summarize the lesson in their own words in a way that reflects the purpose of the discipline and why it was given. The shift to maturity occurs when an individual can discern God's hand at work in their life. This must be true for those times when they appear to be bad as well as those times of joy.
Therefore, as mentioned under the category of "God the Trustworthy Sovereign", it is important that you follow a consistent process of dissecting the root cause of the "foolish" behavior. It is also equally important to help the child to determine in their own words why they will suffer. Then, a proper time for forgiveness and healing must be provided as well. There is nothing worse than a parent exploding at the child over a cumulative run of foolishness and then leaving the matter with only a punishment. I call this the supermarket method because it often happens in public to stop the child from routine behavior that is now embarrassing the parent. There is no wisdom involved and there is no understanding imparted. Just a simple "stop it!" The time spent at home for following the proper process reaps great rewards in public and in years to come.
As we discuss the parent child relationship we can see the importance of appropriate discipline. However, God is as active in lifelong discipline as parents are in correction for children. In addition, God uses various forms of discipline to bring maturity in our lives. It will be worth our time to look at God's purpose for our lives and then we will examine the process God uses in life to achieve His purpose. The discipline for obedience is only a small part of God's overall scheme for us. We need to help our children to understand God's purposes in everyday situations as well as the major incidents that occur in life.
What is our purpose?
Look out and up at any tree. Beautiful in shape and colors, a tree has many benefits. It will cool us with its shade. It will provide oxygen for us to breathe and hold the soil in place. However, what is its purpose? It was created to bring joy but its purpose is to bear fruit. One Christian group said that man's chief aim in life is to glorify God. That is true! Nevertheless, how does man glorify God? Paul says in Romans 8:28-29 "And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren."
We can see that God has a grand design for us to become like Jesus just as a seed from a tree will eventually become like the tree. Therefore, we can understand that God will shape and mold us through the circumstances of life so we become more like Jesus. Yet, there is more than just our own conformity to the image of Christ. God wants to use us to bring that image into the lives of others. Jesus said in John 15:8, "By this is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples." Just as a seed will become like that tree from which it came, it too, will also bear more seed like it. From one tree comes many seeds so there will be many other seed bearing trees. The reason we exist as human beings is so we can help other men and women to become like Christ who in turn will help others to become like Him.