Agape: March 12, 2020

Agape: The 2020 Lenten Devotional for St. Paul's Episcopal Church

“My child, do not despise the Lord’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the Lord reproves the one he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.” -Proverbs 3:11-12

This passage could be taken several ways depending on how you were raised. If you were raised in a family where discipline was pain-based and where “spare the rod, spoil the child” (a phrase from “Hudibras” by Samuel Butler that may or may not take its origin from Proverbs 13:24a) was taken to be an advocation of corporal punishment, this passage is going to be very difficult for you. It is also an inaccurate reading of this proverb and the one Butler paraphrased. (An article on the subject is here.)

The way I interpret it (and Proverbs 13:24a) is that God gives us boundaries out of love for us and concern for our well-being. If you love someone, you do not leave them in the bad situation in which you found them. My Catholic friends speak of “helping their children to heaven” and I absolutely love that idea. I think that part of agape is helping each other to heaven and that God wants that for us. It means that I do not allow my son Daniel to do things that are harmful to himself and for others because God does not want me to do anything that is harmful to myself.

Lord, thank you for the reminder that we all belong to each other and that we are all to help each other to heaven. Amen.
-Jen McCabe