All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.Hebrews 12:11(NASB)
Before we were born again, we were children of the devil and estranged from God. We were dead in our sin and under eternal condemnation. Before we were born again, we were enslaved in sin and under the curse of the Law, en route to the lake of fire and eternal separation from our Creator God. However, since we have been saved by grace through faith, we have become children of God and joint-heirs with Christ. Now we have the promise of eternal life, a citizenship in heaven, and an inheritance that is reserved for us in heavenly places.
It is, indeed, a privilege and an honour to have God as our Father and Christ as our Brother, but with great privilege there comes great responsibility. As God's adoptive children, we are called to follow in the footsteps of the Lord Jesus Christ - God's only begotten Son Who learned obedience by the things that He suffered.
If Jesus learned obedience by the things that He suffered... why should we expect to steer clear of problems of life and the chastening of the Holy Spirit? Paul warned us that all who live godly will suffer persecution, while James adds that we should embrace our various trials with joy, knowing that the testing of our faith produces patient endurance which will bring us into spiritual maturity and Christian completeness.
In general, we expect to receive discipline from our imperfect, earthly fathers, but as legitimately adopted children of our Heavenly Father - how much more should we expect to be corrected by Him and trained through the things that we suffer for our greater good. We are told, in Hebrews, that the Holy Spirit's chastening will produce a crop of peace and righteousness in the lives of all who are willing to be trained by it.
Wise, parental discipline, can take many forms. It can be instructive, corrective, life-preserving, chastening, and character-forming. It can foster patient endurance and encourage a submissive spirit that truly benefits from the wise chastisement of our Heavenly Father.
It is important to develop a right attitude towards God's discipline. When instructing his own son, King Solomon (the wisest man who ever lived) told him not to regard the discipline that came from the Lord lightly, nor to faint when being reproved by Him - for those whom the Lord loves are the ones He disciplines.
During His earthly ministry, the Lord Jesus described Himself as the Vine and explained that we are branches on that heavenly Vine. God the Father is the eternal Vinedresser Who will prune away all the old, dead, unproductive parts of our life so that we may bring forth much fruit to His glory. Pruning may be painful, but the rewards are very satisfying, The discipline of the Lord is designed to cause His children to bear fruit, more fruit - and much fruit, to the glory of God.
The key to godly character-building is patient endurance... which comes through discipline. It is a willingness to learn from experiences, and through them to develop a deepening trust in God... that His ways are always best and that His correction is necessary and productive. But we are not always willing to endure it. This verse in Hebrews reminds us that being disciplined is not a particularly joyful event... indeed, it can be quite painful and problematic. However, the end result produces a rich harvest of righteousness, peace, thanksgiving, and praise - for those who are prepared to learn from it.
An important aspect of heavenly citizenship is willing submission to the chastening of our Heavenly Father. If we are prepared to be trained by the Lord's correction, we will reap a great reward. We should not cave in, therefore, when faced with adverse circumstances, but should humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God... and learn obedience by the things that we suffer so that, day by day, we may be transformed into the image and likeness of the lovely Lord Jesus.
Heavenly Father, I pray I may have a teachable spirit and a willingness to submit to Your chastening hand in my life. I pray that I would learn the lessons that You would teach me, knowing that, "the Lord loves those He disciplines." Thank You that Jesus is the perfect example of a Man Who learned obedience by the things He suffered. May I follow His example in spirit and in truth, and I pray that I would grow in grace and mature in the faith so that I am spiritually complete and honouring to You. This I ask in Jesus' name, AMEN.
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