Discipline; A Difficult Topic

Discipline isn’t a pleasant topic. As a kid, it comes in many forms: time out, grounding, spanking, or my dad’s favorite, a lecture. I preferred a spanking since it was over quicker.

Adults still deal with it, except our timeouts generally mean jail. Lectures come from spouses, friends, or authority figures. There are times it comes in the form of natural consequences, and those usually make the most impact.

There’s a reason for it, though.

Why Me?

cryingWhen we face hard times, we at one point may ask, ‘why me?’ The question comes out of three areas–a sense of helplessness, a narrow perspective on the matter, or a self-important view of oneself. Honestly, at times I waver between myopia and self-centeredness when dealing with work. I have an excellent support network at church and work helping me with that.

Hebrews 12:4-6 starts with a smack in the back of the head.

In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.

I can read that in two ways, ‘quit whining, others are worse off’, or ‘you haven’t seen anything yet.’ Proverbs 3:11-12 gives a reason for the hard times.

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.

We are God’s children and he’s treating us as a parent would.

What Does Discipline Mean?

Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father?
Hebrews 12:7

The Greek word is paideia—meaning correction or chastisement—and it’s used four times in Hebrews 12:4-13. The point behind it is to train us. Self-discipline is training you for a goal, discipline at work is to train you to be a good, valuable employee, and parental discipline is to train you how to live. Read the verse above again.

Discipline is training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties and moral character. Sometimes it’s as simple as telling someone no so they can avoid the negative consequences. To reach a point, if it’s set high enough, everything that doesn’t get you there you’ll have to say no to.

God the Father

A parent disciplines their kids, providing boundaries, rules, and correcting them when they stray. Every Christian is disciplined in this way (Hebrews 12:7).

Would you discipline another person’s kid? God wouldn’t. In fact, that’s how we know God’s our Father, in that he disciplines us.

If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all.
Hebrews 12:8

In hindsight, look at how your parents raised you. What good came from it? Were they perfect?

God is, so why aren’t we submitting to Him more so than our imperfect parents? They didn’t have the luxury of foresight that God has. That’s part of our hope, He sees the end, and knows what we’ll have to do to get there.

It Still Sucks

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 12:11

The reason behind it is righteousness, which is that right standing with God came from Christ on the cross. The transformation to become like Christ is the harvest of discipline as we learn to go God’s way. A parent doesn’t forgive and lets you keep doing the same thing, they stop you. God’s not any different.

It’s training, the stress tests that show how strong or weak you are. Where are you strong at? How are you doing it?

Where are you weak at? What are you missing? Is it even beneficial? Is God in that area?

What to do?

Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees.
Hebrews 12:12

Give careful thought to the paths for your feet
and be steadfast in all your ways.
Proverbs 4:26

Practically, look at the stress points. They’re data. Look for the large patterns and signals, the small problems, rhetoric, and gossip is background noise.

Listen for real information (signal), not noise (generalization/what isn’t being said), and act. The only reason to react is in the event of a true emergency, and if you have redundancies built in, that should be rare. If God is in every part of your life, it will be even rarer.

What to do? This:

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.”
Hebrews 12:28-29

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