Let the righteous smite me in kindness and reprove me;
It is oil upon the head;
Do not let my head refuse it,
For still my prayer is against their wicked deeds.
I can remember many instances when I would share something with my parents, and they would tell me I was leaning toward the wrong decision. In my mind I had already justified why I was making a certain choice, but they were seeing things from a long-term perspective, how this one decision could eventually lead to others like it, taking me down a slippery slope of selfish life choices.
I would end the conversation quickly by either retreating to my room or hanging up the phone.
Then when my friends, my peers began to do the same thing, something clicked inside of me. It wasn’t just my parents being parents, it was fellow Christ-followers seeking the best for me.
Sometimes our minds become so polluted with what we think and our own opinions that we no longer have the clear, unbiased vision we thought we had. And then God is faithful to not only send the conviction of the Holy Spirit, but also to put people in our lives (even if just for a season) who are willing to step out and say what needs to be said.
And guess what? It’s not always comfortable. In fact, most of the time it is extremely uncomfortable. You are being made vulnerable, your sinful nature being brought to the forefront. Sin likes to live in secret, selfishness likes to abide in silence. But all these things will be brought into the light and learning to accept godly, constructive criticism is a necessary and crucial spiritual discipline.
We could go through this whole life refusing to listen to reproof because we don’t want to hear it. We don’t want to make a change because that requires dying to ourselves and living for the Spirit rather than the flesh.
As children of God, however, we need to learn to accept and apply discipline because it is for our betterment. No, at the time you don’t want to hear that your desire to quit your job is based on personal motives rather than the voice of God. We don’t want to listen to the truth the the unsaved person we’re dating isn’t who we need to be with.
I love how the psalmist puts it in Psalm 141:5 saying “Let the righteous smite me in kindness and reprove me; it is oil upon the head; Do not let my head refuse it,”
Is it comfortable? No.
It is necessary for growth and spiritual maturity? Yes.
When the righteous are seeking your spiritual betterment, and they are pointing you on the path God has laid out for you, encouraging you to follow His voice rather than your heart, it is a beautiful thing.
We should always pray for God’s guidance and wisdom as not all voices are helpful or edifying. But learning not only to accept but to apply discipline and chastisement is significant in determining the state of your relationship with Christ. If you refuse to listen to the help of others or the Holy Spirit, you are isolating yourself and becoming an easy target for the enemy and the flesh.
Discipline is refreshing to the soul, rerouting to the wayward heart, and beautiful when seen for what it truly can be–a lamp to our feet in a darkened world.