Daily Devotional

The Lord's Discipline

by Simon Whitton

5 And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: "My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
6 because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son."
7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons.  For what son is not disciplined by his father?
8 If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons.
9 Moreover, 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 our spirits and live!
10 Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness.
11 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.

Hebrews 12:5-11(NIV)

Probably the most important aspect of our relationship with God is that He is a Father to us.  He gave us life, and as His children, our identity is tied up in Him. He provides for us, just as we provide for our own children.  He sets boundaries, protects us, gives direction, instruction, and we find security in Him.

We have a Heavenly Father who is balanced and is everything a good father should be.  He loves us unconditionally, but He's not weak and tolerant of disobedience; and He doesn't discipline us harshly without love.

Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent.
Revelation 3:19 (NIV)

Discipline is the most effective form of teaching.  What makes it so effective, and different to teaching, is that it's painful. God saves this type of teaching for the important lessons, like blatant defiance or character building.  It teaches us that we can't just do as we please, and that there are consequences for our actions.  It causes us to fear and respect authority.

God appears to use two different types of discipline, though they sometimes overlap.  The first is punishment for wrongdoing and is usually reserved for defiance.  This 'correction' teaches us to obey and that there are consequences.

The second is the discipline of hardship, where the goal is to produce character. Joseph in the Old Testament is an excellent example of someone who endured this, growing in moral fiber and responsibility.

What's important is our response to discipline.  Let's not harden our hearts or resent it, but recognize God's love.  Let's humble ourselves and submit to His discipline.  If it's punishment, let's repent and be reconciled to our Father.  If it's hardship, let's embrace it and not lose heart as we look forward to the harvest it will produce.

My son, do not despise the LORD's discipline and do not resent his rebuke,
because the LORD disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.

Proverbs 3:11-12 (NIV)

Spend some time praying that the Lord would make you more aware of His discipline in your life, that He would correct you swiftly when you cross a clear boundary, and that He would develop your character through hardship.  Pray that you would submit to Him and endure, knowing His love.  Thank Him that it will eventually 'produce a harvest of righteousness and peace.'

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