The Father's Discipline
If you've done much web surfing, you've probably seen the sites that speak fondly of the "good old days" of nickel Cokes and Fats Domino records and hula hoops and all the nostalgic memories that Baby Boomers treasure. They tell stories about children playing at their neighbors' houses, and being punished by the other kids' parents if they misbehaved. I don't know how much of that really went on, because nostalgia tends to skew our memories. But one thing on those websites is really true: The kids knew their own parents would be far tougher on them than anyone else could be!
In the "good old days," parents knew their main job was to raise good, upright children who would grow into good, upright adults. Close parental involvement and discipline were the keys to doing that job right. It's not easy, and as I discovered when I became a parent, disciplining your children really does hurt you more than it does them -- just in a different way. But it's vital.
In Hebrews 12:5-11, the Bible teaches that God has that close parental involvement with His children. He "chastens" or punishes us for our sins, just as our earthly fathers did. They disciplined us so we would learn to govern our own behavior in an upright way. God desires the same thing. He chastens us to produce self-discipline in us, what verse 11 calls the "peaceable fruit of righteousness." That's a good phrase. It brings to mind the fruit of the spirit in Galatians 5: love, joy, peace, etc. These are traits that should be evident in the lives of everyone who calls God their heavenly Father.
Further, we gave our earthly fathers our respect when they punished us for misbehavior (v. 9). We didn't like the spankings they administered (or whatever method they used) but we certainly respected them. God also deserves our respect and our love, much more so than our earthly fathers did, because His desire is that we become "partakers of His holiness" (v. 10). That should be the aim of everyone who has been redeemed from sin by the blood of Jesus Christ.
Pay special attention to verse 8. "But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons." The fact that God chastens you for your sin should be encouraging. It means you are truly His child.
So welcome the discipline of the Lord. It's delivered with a loving and caring hand.
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