It isn't a criticism
I don't know about you, but there are times when I get good advice and I just don't pay attention to it. If I don't pay heed to what is shared it usually results in some type of 'disaster' for me. Someone once told me you had to add extra flour to a cake mix at high altitudes and change the baking time/temp. Did I remember to listen to that advice when I was at higher altitudes? Nope...and the brownies were pretty doggone runny! Did I discard them? Nope...just used a spoon to eat them! Advice is good to hear, but if it isn't heeded, it isn't anything more than 'words in the air'.
Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise. Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. (Proverbs 19:20-21)
I have to be honest here - listening to advice is a whole lot easier for me than accepting discipline! When discipline comes my way, I kind of want to turn the other way and just run. I am my own worst enemy when it comes to discipline because I beat myself up over things I haven't exactly done right for a long time. Why? Maybe it is because I really don't want to need to receive 'discipline' in my life and when I do, I kind of get a little too focused on the pride part of accepting discipline. You see, if I willingly accept discipline, I am admitting I was wrong - that hurts my pride. When my pride gets hurt, I tend to rehearse the issue for a while because I don't like that 'feeling'.
I don't think I am alone in this because I have heard enough other people tell me they take discipline kind of hard, as well. It isn't that we don't want to change something what is 'wrong behavior' in our lives, we just don't like the idea that it took receiving some form of 'discipline' to actually get us to focus on the behavior. Our desire is to not even need discipline! The thing is that discipline is part of life and is actually part of how we change. It isn't going to evade us forever because there are just some things in life that we need more than 'advice' about in order to change - we sometimes need a good nudge by God to get us moving in the right direction.
Whenever discipline comes our way, pride will attempt to raise up a little defensive reaction to it. This is human nature. The first time your parent told you 'no' may have been the first form of discipline you received. You probably don't remember the tears you shed when you were denied the cookie, toy, or even the desire to be held in her arms for every nap you ever took. It took a lot of courage on your parent's part to deny you the cookie - they knew there would be an outburst! You would resist the discipline and they knew what was forthcoming. If your parent was like mine, they didn't 'give in' because you resisted, though. They were disciplined in their discipline!
God is much like that - we resist the discipline, but he is disciplined in his discipline. He isn't going to let up until we understand that what he intends to do is something far greater than our own plans would have accomplished in our lives. His discipline isn't harsh - it is loving. His carefulness to target areas where we need more than 'good advice' in our lives isn't criticism - it is compassionate and graceful love. Just sayin!