Discipline. It’s not really a fun word, is it? Does anyone actually enjoy discipline? I looked up the definition just to see if I could find anything redeeming about this very unhappy word:
dis·ci·pline [dis-uh-plin] verb
- To train by instruction and exercise; drill.
- To bring to a state of order and obedience by training and control.
- To punish or penalize in order to train and control; correct; chastise.
It seems like there are two kinds of discipline. There is the discipline of being committed to something, like training or dieting. Then there is the discipline that is punishment for breaking the rules. Neither of these really sound like a good time, right? Does anyone get excited about training, instruction, exercise, obedience, punishment or chastisement?
The Bible has a lot to say about both kinds of discipline, but the author of Hebrews address the issue discipline as punishment in a very practical way that helps us see the eternal value.
“And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says,
‘My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when He rebukes you because the Lord disciplines the one He loves, and He chastens everyone He accepts as his son.’
Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined – and everyone undergoes discipline – then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in His holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. “Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.”
There are a few things here that stand out to me about the value of God’s discipline, and it actually encourages me to embrace it.
- God’s discipline is motivated by love. He doesn’t discipline us out of anger, like some of our earthly parents. Because of His perfect love, He wants to make us better rather than leave us stuck in our dysfunction. Sometimes this requires discipline.
- His discipline proves that we are His children. If we weren’t His children, He wouldn’t bother trying to help us. But since He has adopted us as His own, He takes the role of a parent, guiding and leading us into maturity.
- His discipline is not to pay us back, but to bring us back. God is not trying to “get even”. If He did that, it would destroy us. But God’s discipline is to bring us back to Himself, the source of abundant life.
- His discipline is for our good. The discipline of God produces amazing results in our lives: holiness and a harvest of righteousness and peace. Doesn’t that sound like something we should desire?
- Our response to His discipline will affect the lives of others. He says to strengthen ourselves and make level paths, “so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.” Our positive response to God’s discipline can transform us in such a way that other people will experience His healing too!
There is so much more in scripture about the transforming power of discipline, but the most important thing to remember is that it is for our best and because of His love. I will leave you with one more passage, this time from Job, which I believe sums it all up.
“Blessed is the one whom God corrects; so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.”
If you would like to read more of what the Bible has to say about the benefits of discipline (and the destructive result of ignoring it) simply click HERE.
A message from Pastor John Poitevent of the Road to Freedom program.