Discipline; September 29, 2018

1 Corinthians 11:31-32 But if we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment. When we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned with the world.

Every language has them, but there are certain elements of God’s truth that are hard to express in Japanese, just as there are elements that come across very clearly. This passage has two such problem points. In the first place, Japanese has trouble with the word, “discipline.” Japanese translations of the Bible render it as “training” or as “punishment,” as it is here. That makes for problems when I’m teaching parenting seminars, because I have to use a lot more words to express the concept. Likewise, “condemned” is translated, “convicted (pronounced guilty) of sin.” That’s in the ballpark, but you can’t say, “The health department condemned the building and it was torn down.” The point of this passage by Paul is that if we accept God’s course corrections, we won’t run off a cliff with the rest of the world. The church in Corinth is an excellent case in point. They had numerous problems, obviously, but they were still a vital, growing body, the kind that endured persecution and overcame the Roman Empire. God uses imperfect vessels, thankfully, but He doesn’t leave us as we are; He disciplines us.

This is something I teach on a great deal, in talking both about human parenting and about God’s parenting of us. The Japanese aren’t alone in failing to recognize discipline as love! As I have said, the very idea is hard to express in Japanese. Rather than parental discipline, Japanese tend to go for societal regimentation, expecting schools to do what the Bible says parents should do. (America is certainly moving that direction as well.) I well remember people telling us we were too hard on our girls, and then the next minute praising our girls for being so polite and well-behaved. We occasionally laughed over that! I am faced with that issue constantly as a pastor, and it is far more tricky than in the home, because the relationships aren’t as automatic. People have a hard time receiving correction as love! Spiritual parenting is called for in a biological family as well, but it is the whole deal when it comes to my dealing with the church. Obviously I can’t do it on my own; I’ve got to have the help of the Holy Spirit. My first response to every issue needs to be prayer, even if it’s just a reflexive “Help!” I need to accept God’s discipline myself even as I seek to communicate it to the flock. Awareness of my weaknesses should give me compassion in dealing with those of others, enabling me to speak the truth in love indeed. I don’t want anyone to run off the cliff!

Father, thank You for this reminder. There’s still so much I need to learn, and even more that I need to put into practice, rather than just deceiving myself. (James 1:22) Help me be both the son and the father You want me to be, toward You and toward all my children, both physical and spiritual, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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