The Fruit of Discipline
“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” (Heb. 12:11).
In our sinful condition, we hate to be disciplined. We do not like to be punished or to submit to rules that are designed for our own good. We do not like to endure hardship today, even though we know it may bring good later on.
So much do we hate discipline that we often misunderstand the purposes of strife and hardship in our lives. Sometimes we begin to think that God must not truly love us if we are suffering. Sometimes we might even doubt that we are truly His children.
These responses to suffering were evidently manifesting themselves in the lives of the original audience of the epistle to the Hebrews. Some even considered abandoning Christ because they thought their suffering proved that “they were not His children.”
However, the suffering endured by the original audience of Hebrews proved that they were in fact sons of God. For the Lord disciplines only those whom He loves (12:5–6). Therefore, the author calls them (and us) to endure the discipline of God (v. 7). This discipline is for our good, so that we might share in His holiness (v. 10).
In today’s passage, the author addresses the difficulties of the Lord’s discipline in a very pastoral manner. He says in verse 11 that yes, discipline does seem painful for the moment. He does know how hard it is to endure God’s chastisement. However, the pain of discipline is not an excuse for us to avoid it. He also reminds us that while things may seem painful at the moment, the good that discipline produces will far outweigh our temporary pain. For it will result in the “peaceable fruit of righteousness.” This fruit will last forever.
When we were children, we hated discipline. We hated to be grounded when we broke curfew. We hated to be scolded when we told little “white lies.” But in adulthood, we see the good produced in us as a result of the discipline from our earthly parents. Without it we probably would not have become good citizens. Without it, some of us may never have come to know Christ at all.
If earthly discipline has benefited us, then the discipline from our Heavenly Father will benefit us all the more. It will produce righteousness in our lives (v. 11). It will cause us to bear fruit that pleases God as we become conformed to the image of Christ.
One of the reasons that discipline is so difficult to endure sometimes is that we cannot see the future. We cannot see the good that God will produce in us as a result of today’s discipline. Yet we are promised today that the peaceable fruit of righteousness will result. Ask God to help you treasure this future fruit so that you can endure.
Passages for Further Study
- Prov. 12:1; 29:17
- Gal. 5:22–23
- James 3:17–18
- 1 Pet. 1:6–7