Whenever we go through a hard time, we automatically think “God is punishing me!” As we saw in previous posts, discipline is not punishment, but reminds us that we are loved. This is because discipline is part of the parent-child relationship, and being disciplined by God proves that we are His children. A loving Father, will discipline His children for their own good. “What good is that?” you may ask. God is in the process of sanctifying us when we are being disciplined, bringing about right living, holiness and peace in our lives.
“…God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” (Heb 12:10-11)
Discipline produces a harvest in our lives, new character traits of holiness, righteousness, peace and goodness.
- It draws our attention to sin in our lives.
- It warns and prevents the consequences of sin, that may lead to our destruction. A kind of “heads-up.”
- It teaches us obedience to God and His word. It is one thing knowing the word of God, quite another thing, putting it into practice.
- It results in long-term gains of holiness, righteousness and peace.
- It refocuses our eyes on God as the “author and perfecter of our faith” (Heb 12:2) and reveals Him to us in a new way, that perhaps we have never seen in Him before, or understood about Him before.
- It helps us in our “struggle against sin,” (Heb 12:4) especially when we battle with the same temptations.
- Ultimately, we bear more fruit. “He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, so that it will be even more fruitful. (John 15:2)
How do we experience this discipline?
Scripture is quite clear, we experience hardship. Now, not all hardship is discipline, but God will use hardship to discipline us. Does that mean, God makes bad things happen to us? No, definitely not, God is a good God and intends good things for us (Rom 8:28). He will however, allow hard things into our lives, for our good. We are told to:
“Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father?” (Heb 12:7)
In the process of hardship and discipline – “in our struggle against sin”:
- God reveals Himself to us and His holiness.
- God reveals ourselves to us, perhaps that which we have never understood about ourselves before.
- He conforms us to His image (Rom 8:29) so that we are more like Him.
- We are trained in right living (Heb 12:1 – “it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”)
- To lead as an example for others to follow (Heb 12:12-13 “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.”)
- Leads to blessings in life with Jesus (Heb 12:9 “…we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live!”
What are we to do when we experience hardship?
We need to ask ourselves: “What is God trying to show me?” “What does God need me to understand?” “What is God asking me to change?” God tells us “to not lose heart,” (Heb 12:5) and give up on our Christian faith, but to “endure” and remember that God loves us and “disciplines us for our good.” (Heb 12:10)
It is important to remember though that not all hardship of suffering is God’s discipline. Some suffering has other purposes, example:
- Paul had a thorn in the flesh, to keep him from sinning. (2 Cor 12:7)
- Suffering may be to strengthen us in grace (reliance on God) and endurance (James 1:2-3)
- Suffering in order to confirm Gods truth before men (Acts 5:41)
- Suffering so that God would be glorified (John 11:4; John 9:2-3)
Mostly, we need to remember that during a season of discipline in our lives, a harvest in our lives is inevitable. The fruit of holiness, peace and right living. God uses our experiences of discipline to help others that are following us, to also walk a straight, not crooked path. (Heb 12:12-13)
Heb 6:12 “…imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.”
It is my sincere hope, that this series on discipline has helped you to understand what may be going on in your life. I hope you will also read the blog posts on Testing below, which give more information on what may be going on in your life.
Father, thank you for Your Word that reminds us that we are loved and never forsaken. Thank you, that through hardship we may rejoice in knowing that You are training us, to have the hearts and minds that reflect Your image. Help us to examine our lives and endure hardship as part of discipline. Mostly, let us not make light of discipline, but pay attention.
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