THE POSITIVE SIDE OF DISCIPLINE - Part 1
A couple of weeks ago I read a devotional with the title “Because God Loves Us, He Disciplines Us”. I don’t know about you but just reading the title makes me wince a little. None of us like the word discipline! It makes us feel uncomfortable as it often means personal sacrifice and at times fitting into a schedule or regimen that will cramp our style. Added to this, when God is attached to discipline it makes us more nervous. When we speak about this topic and we look at it in the light of academics, sports, or even getting stuff done around the house. It is hard to knuckle under and get stuff done but there is always a benefit. Academically, if you put mind and effort into studying, usually the good grades will follow and the outcome will be a good career and a comfortable lifestyle. A gifted athlete with proper discipline will receive reward as they become successful. A home that is well maintained will be admired and have much higher resale value. When God is mixed into this equation and discipline is mentioned, we tend to be scared or at least nervous. The reason I suggest this to you is that when God disciplines us, often it is the discipline of the heart and soul. It is something that is deeply internal and challenges our attitudes and motives. Other disciplines for the most part deal with external changes that lead to success.
As I kept reading the devotional and then reading the scriptures attached to it, I began to see this word and its connotation in a slightly different light. The bible passage that deals with this topic is found in Hebrews 12:1-12. It begins in verse 1 with the word “therefore”, which links us to the previous chapter. The 11th chapter of Hebrews fundamentally deals with faith; specifically with the faith of people who were known for their lives of faith in God and how they lived trusting Him. They were not always perfect in their conduct but were definitely people that saw God truly move in their lives. Verse 1 mentions how we are surrounded with these witnesses who have gone before us and learned through their faith experience the consistency of God. Through all that they had learned they also endured a certain amount of discipline from God. The writer of Hebrews takes us from those characters, and in verse 2 says “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God”. The key point here is to focus our eyes upon Jesus so as we go into verse 4, when it says “In your struggle against sin” we will focus ourselves on what is important. Now it says also in verse 4 that generally people have not struggled against sin to the extent of losing their life over it; and as it leads us into verse 5, it alludes to the fact that the encouraging thing is we can learn to overcome sin through Gods’ school of discipline.
In the NIV, the term “word of encouragement” is used in verse 5 and we are addressed as “sons” which encompasses all of God’s children. In other words, God’s discipline is really a protective measure and should encourage us rather than make us nervous. Added to this, in verse 5, we read that we should not casually absorb His discipline towards us but that we should take it seriously as it quotes “do not make light of the Lord’s discipline”. Another piece of advice is that we should not lose heart when the correction comes our way because as it leads into verse 6 we are affirmed by the words that “the Lord disciplines those He loves”. Sometimes punishment accompanies His discipline which is not pleasant, but sometimes we certainly need a wake up call in our lives as the last half of verse 6 says.
As we conclude this weeks article, I wish to bring us back to the phrase “fix our eyes upon Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith”. He underwent the punishment for our sins- the discipline of the cross- out of love for us. What a great example! He was innocent, we are not.
So when discipline comes your way… look to Jesus!
By: Pastor David Jones