He is on the path of life who heeds instruction, but he who ignores reproof goes astray.
One of the most beloved of all Jesus’s parables is the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15. The younger son decides that he does not want to live in his father’s house anymore. So he asks his father for his share of the inheritance, and he leaves his heartbroken father behind. But eventually, he decides to come back to his father. One of the most beautiful scenes in all of Scripture is the son’s return. When he is just a dot on the horizon, his father runs to meet him and throws his arms around him, welcoming him back into the family.
That is a picture of God the Father. He does not hate sinners; he loves sinners and longs for their return. But here is one difference between the father in the parable and our heavenly Father: All that earthly father could do was wait. He got up every morning and scanned the horizon for any sign of his son, and he went to bed every night disappointed. But if you have wandered away from God, He is actively working to bring about your return. And He will use every tool at His disposal, even allowing difficult circumstances in your life, to correct your behavior and restore your relationship with Him.
The Bible calls these hardships “reproofs.” We can accept God’s reproofs and learn from them, or we can ignore those reproofs and pay a steep price. Proverbs warns, “He who ignores reproof goes astray” (10:17), and, “A man who hardens his neck after much reproof will suddenly be broken beyond remedy” (29:1). Think about it this way: The captain of a jetliner has a fuel gauge to tell him if he is running out of gas, and an alarm that tells him if the engines are on fire, and a warning that sounds if he is flying too low. Yet the captain has a choice. He can either listen to those warnings and make the necessary corrections, or he can ignore those warnings and take that jetliner down along with everybody on board.
It is the same thing with us. It is amazing to me how many Christians will experience bankruptcy, or a failure of their marriage, or rebellious children, or illness, or some other unfortunate circumstance and automatically write it off as “just the trials of life.” It is true–not every difficult circumstance is a result of God’s discipline in our lives. But other times, our circumstances are reproofs from God, warnings that we are on the wrong path and need to correct our course.
How do we know if what we are going through is a result of God’s discipline? James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” When you are going through difficulty in your life, ask God for wisdom. Is God trying to get your attention? Is there something in your life that is not right with Him that needs to be corrected? We need God’s wisdom so that we can heed His loving reproofs.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Reproofs That Restore” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2020.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org