A L O O K I N T O T H E A P O S T L E ' S H E A R T
No one likes discipline. And much less, the one who is executing the discipline. However, as we learned earlier in “The Love of Discipline”, the fact that someone is taking the time and effort to correct our wrongs is a sign of love. If they didn’t deeply care for us, they wouldn’t go to the discomfort and effort. Therefore, we should not only be grateful for discipline in our lives, but we should also open our hearts to the one implementing that discipline.
This is easier said than done.
Discipline hurts. It’s not fun. It’s painful. And when we are hurt, what do we tend to do? Close our minds and hearts to that person. Whether we become defensive or not, we all tend to close our hearts to those hurting us—even if it’s for our good as in the case of discipline. It’s a knee-jerk reaction. However, in order for discipline to work and be productive in changing our lives for the better, we must open our hearts to the ones wielding the painful yet honest word of exhortation. We must allow them in and let them prune away the dead and unproductive parts of our life by God’s Spirit. Or, as Paul tells the Corinthians, we must make room in our hearts for them.
“Make room in your hearts for us. We have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have taken advantage of no one. I do not say this to condemn you, for I said before that you are in our hearts, to die together and to live together. I am acting with great boldness toward you; I have great pride in you; I am filled with comfort. In all our affliction, I am overflowing with joy.”
~II Corinthians 7:2-4
Paul greatly loved the Corinthians. This we know beyond a shadow of a doubt, because not only does he tell them repeatedly how much he cares for them, but he demonstrates it by his long letters and fervent prayer. However, that doesn’t mean Paul didn’t hurt the Corinthians. They were sliding deeper into sin, so he strongly felt the need to correct their backsliding and point out their sin. Therefore, he wrote them a painful letter and strong word of discipline. This would not have been an easy letter to receive.
The Apostle Paul was not a guy to mince words. He stated things like it was, whether you wanted to hear it or not. So I’m sure the painful letter Paul wrote stung the hearts of the Corinthians. But it accomplished its purpose. They repented of their sins and got back onto the straight and narrow way. Now, Paul is asking the Corinthians to open their hearts to him. While the discipline was painful, it was also necessary and the Corinthians should not close their hearts to the loving shepherd and leader God gave them.
What about us? Are there people in our lives that God has used to discipline us or point out the error of our ways? Are we holding those people at arm’s length just because they were faithful to the difficult task God assigned to them as accountability partner and teacher?
Like the Corinthians, we need to open our hearts and not push away those who are trying to help us grow and mature in Christ. The pruning process is not pleasant, but it’s for our good. Therefore, let us strive to welcome the admonition and correction that God sends through certain messengers and not push away those who are trying to help us. Let us remember the exhortation from Paul to “make room in our hearts.” Or, as he states elsewhere:
“We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians; our heart is wide open. You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted in your own affections. In return (I speak as to children) widen your hearts also.”
~II Corinthians 6:11-13