I have never met anyone that enjoys being disciplined. I certainly do not like it. I remember when I was a child and would do something wrong, I would do everything to cover up my “crimes” so my parents wouldn't find out. Eventually they would find out and I would be punished. It was always unpleasant, however, now as an adult I look back and I am thankful for the discipline of my parents. Now I understand that they loved me, which translated into them wanting the best for me and meant teaching me to obey authority. It is not just children that need discipline, though – we adults need discipline from time to time. Sometimes it is a boss, legal system, or some other authority in our lives and sometimes it is the Lord. Yes, you read that correctly, the Lord disciplines His followers sometimes. Hebrews 12 teaches us this important truth:
And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? Hebrews 12:5-7
The author of Hebrews is dealing with the issue of sin and the discouragement it has caused in some of the believers' lives. The author spent chapter 11 giving examples of imperfect people from the Old Testament that were saved by grace through faith. In chapter 12 he turns his attention to his audience to give them direct encouragement. They are still struggling with sin even though they are redeemed people. The consequences of their sin is giving them great discouragement. The author helps them understand that these consequences are what God is using to discipline them. He is like a father that is trying to teach his children to obey.
God wants us to obey Him and strive for holiness. Right now, you might be saying, “But I thought God was full of grace and mercy, why is He disciplining me?” First, a disciplining parent is a loving parent. I am not talking about an abusive parent, rather one that is exercising biblical discipline to help their child to learn and grow into a godly
person. This is what God is helping us to do. Second, as John Piper says, Christianity has both a restful and wrestling side. God’s word teaches us that when we come to Christ, we receive a great peace through the Spirit of God. We also must wrestle daily in sanctification to throw off sin and pursue holiness. This often seems like a wrestling match between the spirit and the flesh; however, rest assured Christ has won and will one day we will be made holy.
In the meantime, it is our job to recognize the discipline of God and use it to rid our lives of sin. We must remember that the discipline of God is a good thing. The writer of Hebrews reminds us later in verse 11 -13 of the hope that discipline has:
For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. Hebrews 12:11-13
My encouragement to you today is to be reassured that when we are disciplined by God it is because our Heavenly Father loves us. We must receive that discipline like a child. It will be unpleasant, but it is for our good. So, we can all say, "Thanks be to our Lord and Father who cares enough to correct us when we stray!”