Hebrews chapter 12

My child, don’t ignore it when the Lord disciplines you, and don’t be discouraged when he corrects you. For the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes those he accepts as his children.” As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children. – Vs 5-7 (NLT)

Discipline. Not exactly a favorite word in our culture today, even among Christians. It conjures up some fairly negative images. The concept of self-discipline brings to mind dieting, exercise, abstinance, denial of self in order to achieve some worthwhile objective. Being disciplined by someone else is even more distasteful because it usually thoughts of punishment or pain due to some mistake we have made or our failure to meet someone’s expectations. So when we run into a passage like this and read, “For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines,” all kinds of conflicted ideas come into our minds. Love and discipline just don’t seem to go together. In spite of the fact that most of us have told our children when spanking them, “I’m only doing this because I love you.”

Nine times in seven verses the writer of Hebrews uses the word discipline. It is the Greek word peideia and as is usual with most Greek words, it is rich in meaning. It comes from another Greek word, pais, which means “child.” So the term peideia has to do with the training of a child. “The word is a broad term, signifying whatever parents and teachers do to train, correct, cultivate, and educate children in order to help them develop and mature as they ought” (John MacArthur, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary). The NET Bible defines it this way:

The whole training and education of children (which relates to the cultivation of mind and morals, and employs for this purpose now commands and admonitions, now reproof and punishment) It also includes the training and care of the body

So while the word does include the idea of punishment and reproof, there is much more involved than that. It is a positive term that involves instruction which aims at increasing virtue. So when hardship or trials come our way, we are to view them with the perspective that God loves us and is disciplining or training us. “It is for your training that you undergo these things” (BBE). We are to see our difficulties as part of God’s sovereign, loving plan to discipline us. It is not always punishment for wrongs done, but like a loving parent or teacher, God is using every circumstance in our lives to mold into us Christ-like character. My kids hate exams in school. They see no value in them. They only view them as some kind of sick punishment meted out by unfair teachers who seem bent on ruining their lives. But what they fail to see is that their teachers have a greater goal in mind than my children’s happiness. They are responsible to mold and prepare their minds for future study and in to ready them for future careers. But because my kids live in the immediacy of the moment and do not want to think about the future, they can only see these tests as roadblocks to their personal pleasure. They would prefer they be taken away altogether, not realizing that to do so would be an act of hatred, not love.

So we too are constantly asking God to take away those tests or trials we find distasteful or disturbing to our idea of comfort and pleasure. But because God loves us, He refuses to do so. Instead, He treats us as a loving Father, who knows exactly what we need and refuses to give us what we want. God loves us too much to give us our way. He knows better. And if we will learn to view the difficulties and hardships of life through Gods eyes, we will begin to see that He has a plan for even the hardest moments of our life. We have to cultivate an eternal perspective that helps us see beyond the moment. “No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening––it is painful! But afterward there will be a quiet harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way” (Vs 11 – NLT).

Father, thank You that you love me so much that you are willing to train me. Please help me look past what I can only seem to see as the pain of discipline and see the fruit that will result from it. Give me an eternal viewpoint that sees my circumstances from your perspective. Help me to remember that Your discipline is proof of just how much You love me. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men