We live in the woods, so we get very little prolonged sunlight in the summer. But we love fresh tomatoes, so I decided to try growing them in pots set in a few sunny spots.

The plants started to grow right away and really fast. I was thrilled—until I realized that their fast growth was due to their efforts to reach out to the limited sunlight. By the time I figured out what was happening, the vines were too heavy to support themselves. I found some stakes, lifted the vines carefully, and fastened them in an upright position. Even though I tried to be gentle, one of the twisted vines broke when I tried to straighten it.

This reminded me that discipline must begin before character is permanently bent and twisted.

Eli the priest had two sons whom he failed to discipline. When their wickedness got so bad that he could no longer ignore it, he tried gentle rebuke (1 Sam. 2:24-25). But it was too late, and God announced the dire consequences: “I will judge [Eli’s] house forever for the iniquity which he knows, because his sons made themselves vile, and he did not restrain them” (3:13).

Being straightened out is painful, but being left crooked will ultimately hurt even more.