“Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.”
I’ve been thinking a lot about discipline lately. That’s no surprise considering that I teach 6th grade and it’s the end of the school year. But seriously, the topic of discipline comes up all the time in popular culture from everything to raising children to self-help plans. The general consensus seems to be that more of it is a good thing, right?
Recently, I participated in a Bible study on the book of Hebrews. The next to last chapter of this great letter focuses on the topic of discipline, specifically about God’s discipline of His children. It really got me thinking about my attitude towards God when He disciplines me. Honestly, I don’t like it when God disciplines me, so I started to dig a little into my attitude through prayer, study, and discussion with my group. Hopefully some of my thoughts can help you when facing a moment of hardship that you view as discipline from God.
First of all, God thinks about discipline differently than we do. Proverbs 3:11-12 tells us to not take “lightly the discipline of the Lord” because “the Lord disciplines the one he loves.” Sometimes, I struggle with Christian “karma.” You know this idea-if I am obedient, then my life will be fine-no bumps, no hurts, no struggles. But that idea is just flat out wrong. It’s not biblical. The Bible is full of examples of people who followed the Lord but endured many hardships.We don’t necessarily have to sin to experience His discipline, either. Look at Paul’s example. He was preaching the Word but had to endure trial after trial. Prison. Shipwreck. Sickness. Isolation. During a trial have you ever stopped to think about why it was happening to you? What is God’s purpose for your suffering ? I encourage you to keep digging and talking to God during these times. We may want to run from Him during hard times, but that is the moment we should draw near and pour our hearts out! Pray out loud. Sing. Cry. He will speak to us in our most painful moments.
Secondly, God’s discipline grows us in ways we couldn’t imagine. The author of Hebrews goes on to say “He disciplines us for our good, that we may share His holiness.” This idea really got me going-Me sharing in Jesus’ holiness? Wow! Jesus is the picture of obedience and lived a sinless life, yet he suffered the discipline of the cross on our behalf to complete God’s plan for salvation. One of our main tasks as believers on earth is to become more Christ-like. God uses discipline to further us on that path. This thought of Christ going ahead of me in discipline changes my attitude because I want to be more like Him.
Lastly, God’s discipline is rewarding. Rewards from pain? Yes. Check out what the author of Hebrews tells his audience in 12:11, “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.” I don’t know about you but peaceful anything sounds wonderful right now. Our world is so chaotic. People are seeking peace. People are also seeking righteousness. As a result of God’s discipline, I am more patient, less judgy, more faithful. I still have a long, long, long way to go, but looking back at times where I know He was disciplining me helped me to see the “fruit” He is growing in my life. Think about your path. What fruit do you see God growing?
God knows us and loves us. Spend some time in thought and prayer about His discipline.
“It is for discipline that you must endure. God is treating you as sons.” Hebrews 12:7