Jesus Christ is Lord of All

Sunday, November 25, 2012

An Ode to Strict Parents

Priceless Authorities (excerpt from Chapter 7 of "The Gospel and the Core of Purity")

     God has created man in His own image; male and female He created them (Gen 1:27). He is characterized by the Triune nature of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Let us focus on the characteristics of the heavenly Father. Our heavenly Father exercises sovereign and loving authority over His children. His discipline is painful and yet it yields a peaceful harvest of righteousness for His children who are trained by it. As we submit to the Father of our spirits, we are able to live. (Heb 12:5-12) He rescues us from every evil attack. He delivers us out of each temptation through His discipline and restoration. He commands us to remain in His Word and to persevere in His true Doctrine. All of His commands to His children are given in love. All of His judgments and discipline are for the good of His children, to keep them in the faith and in the narrow path that leads to eternal Life. If we truly understood the consequences of sin both here in this world and in the age to come for those who reject Christ, we would worship Him with infinite gratefulness for His authority. When God’s judgments come on the world, the people of the earth learn righteousness (Is 26:9). When we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined by Him so that we are not condemned with the world (1 Cor 11:32).

    In short, a thorough understanding of the heart of our heavenly Father towards us in His discipline and the reasons for and results of His discipline would reveal His glorious love. We would cling to Him and never let go! So, let us consider those authorities whom He has placed in our lives to guard us against impurity. I want to share with you my deepest gratefulness and respect for the God-given authorities in my life. Sadly, I have not always respected and honored the presence of the discipline of the authorities in my life. But now, having been trained in righteousness by it, I would not take away a single word or act of discipline that I have received from my God-given authorities. Though my authorities have not been perfect in their administration of discipline in that at times it was given in anger and irritation, I would not erase any of it from my past.  Rather the sum of my prior discipline is engrained in my mind as priceless strings of pearls used by God is His tender refinement of my character.

He who withholds his rod hates his son,
But he who loves him disciplines him diligently.Prov 13:24

     I have not always been grateful for the discipline of my parents, but I have come to thank God frequently for it, because I understand in some measure the protection of my soul by my heavenly Father through my earthly parents’ discipline. Throughout my later childhood and early adulthood, I became best friends with my parents. Though periodically we had conflicts over my sin, generally my parents and I were united in our understanding and pursuit of righteousness. When the desires of the parents and children are for Christ’s righteousness, there will be less conflict since the goals and purposes of both are aligned. During the times of conflict, often I considered my parents’ authority to be harsh. I even conveyed to them that I felt hated as a child. Yes, I do regret having felt this way, and God has broken my heart over my former attitudes. I have seen my parents train me in the way I should go, and seen myself resort to their Godly teachings as I grew older (Prov 22:6).

     My parents are considered far more authoritative than many others around us. Their authority and discipline have been spoken of by others as judgmental, legalistic, and graceless. And here, I wish to convey that Anand and I, of all people, have seen the extent of my parents discipline, as harsh as it may have been at times, and we confer that we value all of it as priceless. God has used each piece of it, even the imperfect pieces, to train and mold us, to reveal the extent of our moral depravity apart from Christ, and to lead us to the cross. My parents did not grow weary in doing good, but persevered. As God progressively sanctified Anand and I, they are receiving the harvest of their efforts (Gal 6:9). Did they make mistakes? Yes, and they would admit that. But their harvest of righteousness far exceeds that which would have resulted had they neglected their responsibility as parents. Was their discipline painful? Yes, Anand underwent much Godly sorrow for his life as a result of his father’s dissatisfaction with certain parts of his life. And I went through many crying episodes in the shower as a teenager telling God “everybody hates me…” Even in early adulthood, God has used my parents’ reproof and discipline to humble me when I was on the verge of having a lofty heart, and to shatter my pride over what ought not to be taken pride in. I have come to a point in my heart where, when my parents rebuke me, it still hurts for the time, but deep down I know that God is going to humble me and cause me to repent. He is going to refine my character and make me more like Christ. And thus, I have come to thank God for my parents, and even to long for their rebuke. When we are wise in Christ, we will love those who reprove us. When we are given instruction, we will become wiser still. When we are taught our learning is increased. (Prov 9:8-9) The kind reproof of the righteous is oil on our head; our head should not refuse it (Ps 141:5).

    Currently I have a general routine that I go through when I am rebuked by my parents: When I first hear it, it stings, and I may say some words out-loud to defend myself and feel worse after speaking such. Then I withdraw and acknowledge the depravity of my flesh. The Spirit grants me humility and repentance. Then I plead with God to give me a new heart and spirit and to help me become like Christ. Then I confess my sin to my parents. It is a repetitive process that happens every now and then. I am amazed to see how God is changing me. These days, this process is short-circuited, and the Spirit’s conviction is there at the time of rebuke so that I am granted repentance more quickly. I pray that God will make me more humble and receptive to rebuke and discipline.

    My deep respect is given to every Godly parent, especially fathers, who are strict with their children. Yes, they make mistakes, but God will reward their faithfulness and their keeping good trust with what has been entrusted to them.

25 The Lord is good to those who wait for Him,
To the person who seeks Him.
26 It is good that he waits silently
For the salvation of the Lord.
27 It is good for a man that he should bear
The yoke in his youth.
28 Let him sit alone and be silent
Since He has laid it on him.
29 Let him put his mouth in the dust,
Perhaps there is hope.
30 Let him give his cheek to the smiter,
Let him be filled with reproach.
31 For the Lord will not reject forever,
32 For if He causes grief,
Then He will have compassion
According to His abundant lovingkindness.
33 For He does not afflict willingly
Or grieve the sons of men. Lam 3


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