Discipline may seem hard at the time, but our God wants the very best for us. He loves us. He delights in us. He has a plan for us.
"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 12:11 (NLT)
Discipline hurts. When on the receiving end of it, we hate it. We whine. We groan. We complain. Our sin nature rises up to defend, rebel and justify.
The author of Hebrews recognized this and says so in our key verse today: "No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening — it's painful."
Yes, it is. Don't you love how God validates our feelings? Discipline hurts!
But when we examine the second half of this verse, God also makes a promise. He promises that afterwards there will be "a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way." God promises to bring forth fruit from discipline. This fruit is the outward effect of His divine discipline. Each time God disciplines us, He moves us closer and closer to holiness.
Oh, how it hurts, though. Recently, I watched and listened as my husband spoke what I believed to be harsh words to my son about his behavior. I did not feel my son's childish behavior warranted my husband's reaction. I made my opinion known right then and there...in front of my son. Looking back, I can see that I disrespected my husband. But, of course, I did not see it that way at the time. In my mind, I was protecting my son's heart, believing I knew the right way, a better way, to say what my husband said.
Later that night, my husband addressed this with me privately. It felt like he was correcting me. I reacted as expected...defending and justifying my words.
God being God had already arranged for me to have coffee the next day with a dear friend who is about ten years ahead of me in parenting. I casually asked how her youngest son was doing. It opened the door to a conversation that led to how a woman needs to respect her husband and trust him with the discipline of a son. She stressed the importance of wives not only respecting their husbands, but also trusting them and praying for them...for wisdom and strength as they father their children, especially sons.
Wow!! She knew nothing of my circumstances when she began sharing her wisdom. Tears fell from my eyes as I heard God speaking to me through her.
God softened my heart. Why? To be honest, it was probably because the words did not come from my husband.
I realized in that moment that I needed to change my heart. I learned through her words that my husband's admonishment about what I had done was God's discipline and sanctifying work. With this new perspective, I find myself more willing now to accept discipline and to work with God instead of against Him.
As we closed our time together, my friend prayed the most beautiful prayer that moved my heart to repentance. I could not wait for my husband to get home that night and share what God taught me.
God's promise does not end there. Hebrews 12:12-13 says:
"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." (NIV)
Friend, God uses discipline to heal. Our God wants the very best for us. He loves us. He delights in us. He has a plan for us. It is only when we willingly allow God to sanctify our hearts and remove sin...whatever it may be (pride, bitterness, fear, mistrust, shame, guilt, anger)...that God can truly use us and accomplish His plans in and through us.
Heavenly Father, give me a heart of glad surrender, one that willingly receives Your discipline. Father, whatever it takes, make me more like You. Bring forth a harvest of righteousness and peace in my life. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Read 1 Peter 5:5-6 and James 4:6. Who does God oppose in these verses? Who does God favor? What is His promise?
In what ways has God brought the strong hand of sanctifying discipline into my life?
How has God worked in and through that discipline?
1 Peter 5:5b, "All of you, clothe yourselves with humility...because God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." (NIV 1984)
James 4:6b, "...God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." (NIV 1984)
Psalm 51:17, "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise." (NIV 1984)
Isaiah 66:2b, "...This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word." (NIV 1984)