Instruction: Blessing or Curse?

Most memories of being corrected don’t evoke happy or pleasant thoughts. Often correction means stern or harsh warnings, even when given with the best of intentions. However, in the Proverbs instruction is to be received as precious jewelry, something to be worn with honor. How does this disconnect happen? Why is something that is intended for good and blessing become the equivalent of a curse?

Proverbs 16:20-24 provides a guide for how to make instruction valuable. Solomon stresses the obvious, but neglected value of instruction. Those who pay attention to instruction do well. Understanding is like a fountain of freshwater to those who are thirsty. Instruction flows from wise lips and is to be desired. This description of loving understanding is in sharp contrast to the disgraced young fool in Proverbs 5 who had come to ruin because he hated understanding and discipline.

Discipline is to be administered with firm words, but also with gentle, pleasant words. Solomon not only states the value of wise instruction in Proverbs 16. He also says how this instruction is to be transmitted.

Pleasant words promote instruction! 

A wise parent uses pleasant words to make what is taught attractive and desirable. The wise parent knows that pleasant words are healing and bring restoration to his child’s heart and body! She knows she is giving her child something more valuable than the finest necklace or gemstone.

The reason for using pleasant words becomes clear as you focus on the purpose of your discipline and instruction. Your goal is not simply to change behavior or instill a sense of warning and caution that poor choices yield poor results. This aspect is important, but biblical instruction is to accomplish much more. The goal of your instruction is to lead your children to Christ!

Your love for your spouse or children is based not only on knowledge about them but your love comes directly from interacting with them, from knowing them, from enjoying them, from hurting with them. This is how instruction and discipline can become a blessing rather than a curse.

Ask God for the humility to make your instruction a blessing. Take Proverbs 16:20-24 to heart. Pleasant words promote instruction!

Instructing a Child’s Heart DVD

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Jay Younts
John A. (Jay) Younts is the Shepherd Press blogger, and is a ruling elder serving at Redeemer Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moore, South Carolina. He has written Everyday Talk, Everyday Talk About Sex & Marriage, Finding the Right Track, the In Touch With Paul stewardship series, and What About War. He has studied and taught about biblical childrearing for 30 years. He and his late wife Ruth have five adult children.