Hebrews 5:8-11 and learning to love God's discipline

(Photo: Unsplash/Fa Barboza)

At a Mother's Day function at church recently, a church brother in a tribute to his mother, mentioned that when he was younger, she would discipline him whenever he misbehaved.

He explained how he hated being disciplined and his mother would always tell him that she did it because she loved him. He stated that at the time, he could not understand what she meant, but as he grew older he realised that through her discipline and correction, he learnt what was right from what was wrong.

Likewise, as God's children we do not always understand why we are being disciplined by God in the moment. We may believe that we are being treated unfairly and that the presence of His discipline proves the absence of His affection, but that's far from the truth. Our Father disciplines us because he loves us.

"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 chapter 3, verses 11 to 12).

The author of Proverbs chapter 3 reminds us that God disciplines us as a father disciplines the son he takes delight in. Paul expounds on this idea in Hebrews chapter 5, verses 8 to 11 when he says, 

"If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. 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 spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. 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."

It is important that while we are being disciplined by our Heavenly Father, to dwell on His character and His love for us. When we do this, it helps us to remember that He does not correct us to hurt us, but because He wants what is best for us as well as to transform us. He loves us too much to allow us to remain where we are. His discipline is for our own good and is meant to conform us into the image and likeness of His Son.

Discipline is not proof of unforgiveness

We should never believe that when we are disciplined by God, that it is a sign that He has not forgiven us of our sins. When we confess our sins to God and genuinely repent of them, He forgives us:

"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John chapter 1, verse 9).

Our repentance and God's forgiveness however does not exempt us from the consequences we face as a result of our sins. Forgiveness of sin and the consequences of sin are very different, so understand that while God may forgive our trespasses, the sins we commit very often carry their own consequences. For example, if someone commits murder and later repents, God will forgive that person, but they will still go to jail.

The good news is that when we sin, God is able to use the consequences we face as a means to discipline us and draw us closer to Him. In some cases, his correction can be painful, but in the end, it will build our perseverance to remain in obedience to God.

"No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it" (Hebrews chapter 12, verse 11).

Discipline does not always look the same

In the same way a father chooses how he will discipline his child, our Heavenly Father chooses the way He disciplines us. Two Christians may have committed the same sin but may face different consequences and God may choose to discipline them differently. Remember that God knows our hearts and knows what will break us to conform to His will.

God said through the prophet Jeremiah said, "I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve" (Jeremiah chapter 17, verse 10).

Despite how God chooses to discipline us we can be certain of this: He will always do it from a place of love. God never disciplines us to hurt us or cause us pain, but instead to make us more obedient, holy and righteous. He wants us to grow and become mature Christians. God's end game is to transform us into His Son's image.

"When our behaviour fails to align with our true identity in Christ, God disciplines us for our own good. He brings about correction so that our behaviour parallels our identity." - Charles Stanley.

Republished from Christian Today UK.