7 It is for discipline that you endure. God deals with you as with children, for what son is there whom his father doesn’t discipline? 8 But if you are without discipline, of which all have been made partakers, then are you illegitimate, and not children. 9 Furthermore, we had the fathers of our flesh to chasten us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much rather be in subjection to the Father of spirits, and live? 10 For they indeed, for a few days, punished us as seemed good to them; but he for our profit, that we may be partakers of his holiness. (WEB)
I am always a little apprehensive to talk about the discipline of the Lord. For many of us, the word discipline or as the KJV says 'chastening', stirs up feelings associated with guilt, shame and punishment. In a harsh religious context, today's Scripture reading might cause us to run away from God rather than run towards Him.
I think the reason why we feel like this is because we do not have a healthy understanding of what it means to be disciplined by the Lord. First of all, the Greek word used in this passage of Scripture means to educate or to train. Strong's Concordance also says that it can mean correction, instruction and nurture. Hence our call to be 'disciples' which shares the same root word as discipline.
In no way does the word 'discipline' mean punishment for punishment's sake. Our heavenly Father is not interested in executing His wrath or disapproval on us. All of that was dealt with when Jesus took upon Himself our sins on the cross. What our Father is interested in is training us up to be like Jesus (Romans 8:29).
Part of that process is a pruning of useless things that will distract us (John 15:1-2) from fulfilling our destiny. That process will cause us to 'repent' from our old way of living. Even the word 'repent' has been given a negative shame-based meaning in a religious context though it simply means to change direction or have a change in heart. Romans 2:4 actually tells us that it is the 'goodness of God' that leads us to repentance.
Think about how parents relate to their own kids. What happens if a child reaches out to touch a hot stove? Does a loving parent intervene? Of course they would and they would do whatever was necessary to train their child not to touch that hot stove again! In a much more profoundly loving way than any earthly parent, our heavenly Father is committed to conforming us into the image of His Son.
He disciplines us for our own good. Does it hurt? Sure does! But it is important that we know that He causes everything to work for our good (Romans 8:28). That does not mean that everything is good, but our heavenly Father has the infinite ability to transform even the worst of situations into something that will help us in the long term.
My prayer today is that we would all know how much our Father's discipline is rooted in His love for us. He has committed all of the resources of heaven to mold us and shape us into the sons and daughters He has dreamed that we would be. May we all submit to the Father of our spirits and live an abundant life! (Hebrews 12:9)
We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose. For whom he foreknew, he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. Whom he predestined, those he also called. Whom he called, those he also justified. Whom he justified, those he also glorified. What then shall we say about these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who didn’t spare his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how would he not also with him freely give us all things? (WEB)