I doubt many of us would acknowledge that we love discipline. At the very least, having to face discipline means that we have sinned against God, and often means we have also sinned against others. Therefore, in the midst of enduring correction and possible punishment, we also have to deal with our own guilt and shame.
Reflecting back on these moments of discipline from my own childhood
I can remember often wishing that my parents would simply overlook my sin and forego the consequences of my disobedience. Therefore, passages like Proverbs 3:11-12 always stood out to me. Here the writer has the courage to say, “My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the LORD reproves him who he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.”
Is God really telling us that we should embrace and be thankful for discipline? Is He really saying that discipline is evidence of God’s love for us? Doesn’t He instead mean that discipline is primarily evidence of God’s judgment and wrath?
One would think so, but the same concept of thankfulness and love appears again in Hebrews 12. Here the writer of Hebrews gives a more complete explanation of why we should be thankful for discipline and how it displays God’s love for us.
First, we see that because of Jesus’ death on the cross we are finally able to lay our sin aside and follow Jesus as God intended. Therefore, when God disciplines us after we sin, He is reminding us of the goal to become like Christ. His desire is to make us holy, not condemn us.
Secondly, the author of Hebrews reminds us that Jesus’ death has made us God’s children. And because sin is harmful to us, God disciplines us to help redirect His children to what is good. Just as it is loving for a parent to be active in redirecting their children away from evil and towards what is good for them, so it is loving for God to be active in disciplining us so we turn away from evil and towards what is good for us. As the writer of Hebrews points out in v. 11, discipline is always painful in the present, but as we turn away from sin and towards Christ, we will eventually grow in righteousness, as God desires.
Looking back, I am thankful for the many times my parents disciplined me as a child. I can now see how these numerous moments of correction helped steer me away from evil behaviors and towards what was good for me. In their discipline, I see that my parents loved me as their child.
Church, as we read through Proverbs this month, as we encounter the Lord’s correction and discipline it offers, let us see those words of wisdom as evidence that God loves us. Let us understand that His desire is to turn us away from our sin, and towards the good life of following Christ. Let us believe in our hearts that the Lord disciplines us because He dearly loves His children.
In His Great Love,