When I was a kid, I hated discipline. I ran from it. When I got in trouble I would hide. When it was time for a spanking, I would do everything I could to get out of it. But the writers of Hebrews says that discipline is a GOOD thing: it shows us that we are loved and children of God.
Have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as a child of God? “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, ESV)
The writer goes on to say that “no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”
We know that the Word of God is “living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4.12, ESV). And it is through this Word and a focus on Christ that we are not conformed to this world, but transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12.1-2).
But do we truly desire the confrontation and discipline of the Word? For when we are confronted, it demands a response: either disobedience leading to death or obedience leading to righteousness.
There is a fascinating passage in Revelation 3.19 – Jesus is speaking to the church at Laodicea and says: “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.” The word “rebuke” means to expose and “chasten” means to discipline or teach. But what is interesting is that the word “love” is not agape. We know God agapes the world (John 3.16) but this word for love is phileo, the kind of love that exists between best friends. It is the brotherly, friendship kind of love.
Jesus is saying that those He is in friendship with, those whom He would call “best friends” are the ones to whom He rebukes and chastens. When we are in relationship with Jesus, He doesn’t come at us with a kitchen spoon to spank us (though it can feel that way at times); rather, He comes to us as a best friend. If my buddy Ben was committing sin and I knew about it, I would be compelled to confront him. But I wouldn’t go after Ben to beat him up. I would confront him as a best friend – I would sit him down, expose (rebuke) his wrong doing, and press him into truth (allowing Jesus to discipline and awaken him – teach him – to the reality of his life). Jesus does the same thing with us.
Are you open for Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, to confront, expose, discipline, and correct you? Discipline is a good thing! And like the Hebrew writer says, it may not be joyful for the present, but rather painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
And isn’t that what we want in the end – the peaceable fruit of righteousness, having been proven and trained by the correction? Could we get to the point where we actually desired discipline in our lives?
Perhaps there is something that Jesus has been trying to expose in your life – are you listening? Embrace the discipline. Be obedient.
Question: why is discipline so difficult for us to embrace? What areas of your life might Jesus be exposing? Feel free to leave a comment below. Know we are praying for you.