HEBREWS 12:5-6: “And have you forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you as his children? He said, “My child, don’t make light of the Lord’s discipline, and don’t give up when he corrects you. For the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child.” NLT
OBSERVATION: Have I discovered the joy of discipline? This may seem like a strange question. However, the writer of Hebrews frames these verses about the Lord’s discipline with these words,
- “And, have you forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you as his children?”
I have not met anyone who likes discipline. As a new father, I thought that my daughter was perfect and would never need to be disciplined…until she turned 2. Her mother and I had to learn fast how to be consistent and discipline our daughter, out of love, and for her benefit.
I will never forget the showdown at Walmart when my daughter was 3 years old. We had gone shopping and my daughter saw something that she wanted. When we said no – she threw herself into a tantrum. I tried to quiet her in Walmart but was not successful. I leaned over and whispered in her ear – “If you don’t stop this behavior right away when you get home, you will receive a spanking.
She didn’t stop. Two lessons needed to be learned in this experience for her benefit. The first was that she needed to be content and realize that she could not always have what she wanted, and when she wanted it. The second was, she needed to respect authority as represented by her father and mother, and soon in others who would be an important part of her life.
I had to take her outside while my wife finished shopping. When my wife came out she had stopped crying. We loaded her up into the van, along with our groceries, and headed home. As we traveled home she began to ask if she was still going to receive a spanking. As she cried and asked me not to punish her my heart was tugged in so many directions. Yet, I knew that I would not be showing her true love if I went back on my word.
The spanking was not hard or really the focal point of the discipline. The focal point was reminding her why she was being punished, the kind of behavior that was acceptable in public, and why obeying authority was the right thing to do. I disciplined my daughter, as I said I would do, and then I took her in my arms, held her close, and told her how much I loved her. This was the last time I ever had to spank my daughter. From that point on she knew my word was true and if she was asked to adjust her behavior, she did.
God disciplines His children – because He loves them. If He did not discipline us, when we persist in our stubbornness and sin, we would never grow and become like Christ. Discipline shines the light on our blind spots and shortcomings. The difficulties and suffering we endure in life are many times the only thing that causes us to stop, change direction, and seek the Lord. The writer of Hebrews goes on to explain,
- “For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness. No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward, there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.” Hebrews 12:10-11 NLT
No one enjoys discipline! Yet, God’s discipline in our lives is always good. He wants us to share in His holiness. To put this another way – He wants us to be whole as He is whole! When we submit to His correction, when we turn to Him in repentance, when we seek Him anew with our whole heart, we experience the peaceful harvest of right living. We begin to experience the reality of Christ in us (and through us) – the hope of glory!
I will never forget when I was a young pastor. God was trying to get ahold of me but I wasn’t listening. I was not sinning so to speak, I just wasn’t listening. My plans were set for the day and I did not want to have any interruptions. Then – my washing machine began to leak from the hose. It was located in a small closet and water had begun to flood everywhere. After quickly turning off the water, mopping up the mess, I was now hanging over the top of the washing machine, head hanging toward the floor, trying to replace the hose in this tight spot. My plans for the day were shot! I cried out – “Lord, why is this happening?”
As I hung upside down over the top of the washing machine, I heard the still small voice of the Holy Spirit saying – “Why aren’t you listening to Me?” Suddenly, I realized that I was being disciplined by the Lord. It was not just a broken water hose that needed fixing, it was also my heart! Without this broken hose, I don’t know if I would have cried out to the Lord like I did at that moment and heard His voice. Suddenly, bent over the washing machine, a sense of joy flooded my heart. God loved me enough to get my attention, even when I wasn’t paying attention!
Since that time I have learned to embrace the joy of discipline. I want to be like my small daughter, who learned of her father’s consistency and love and began to be responsive to his voice. God’s discipline in my life is always good. It has taken on many forms over the years. Sometimes it is just a quickening from His Word. Other times it has been difficult situations and trials that have brought me to the end of myself so that I would once again trust fully in Him. Yet, every time I knew I was in the hands of my loving Heavenly Father!
The writer of Hebrews closes these thoughts about discipline with a strong word of exhortation.
- “So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong.” Hebrews 12:12-13 NLT
It is in exhortation to find strength in Christ. It is an exhortation to find healing through His grace. It is an exhortation to find direction for our lives.
It is the call to learn the – “Joy of Discipline!”
Lord, give me the grace to rejoice as You discipline my life, so that I may be transformed into the image of Jesus Christ!
In Jesus Name!