What do you think of when you hear the word discipline? Is it something that you look forward to? Is it something you cringe about because it involves obeying rules, or a code of behaviour to correct disobedience? My idea of discipline is often associated with an unpleasant task or a painful experience. But not all discipline needs to be painful, in fact, it can actually be a way of living out our day-to-day experiences.
Let us consider Hebrews 12:5-11, where it speaks about disciplining ourselves for a life full of peace, blessing, and truth.
And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons:
“My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord,
Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him;
For whom the Lord loves He chastens,
And scourges every son whom He receives.”
If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
For some, discipline usually occurs as a result from being under authority of someone else. A dog is trained by it’s owner, because they are under their authority all the time (or at least should be). A child is trained by their mother or father to abide by their rules, to make good choices, to live up to their parent’s expectations of them.
But sometimes, as dogs or as children, we disobey our authoritative figure. We choose what we’d rather like doing, instead of listening to whose in charge. This is because we are tempted by our own desires, and thus we do what we think will benefit ourselves in the long run.
The more times we allow ourselves to do what we think is right, we end up forgetting what we’ve been told to do by our masters. We end up scrapping what we’ve been taught for our own sense of knowledge, which ultimately leads us down a terrible path.
But here, in Hebrews 12:5-11, it is understood that we need to be corrected from our wrong ways of living through discipline. Sometimes, this can be in the form of “chastening” where God allows us to enter a season of hardship. We may not understand why our life seems so hard, until we realize that it get’s easier the more we obey what God is telling us to do.
For myself, I can say that for months on end it was very difficult to “give up” some of my own desires, in order to receive the promises God had for me. It wasn’t easy, it was actually one of the hardest stages I’ve been in. Through consists prayer, talking with others, seeking help from wise counsel, and so forth, I began to recognize that it’s not so bad when I start listening to God and obeying what He’s been asking of me. In fact, it encourages me to do what He asks because I know there’s a very specific reason for His instruction.
I will never forget, sitting at the back of church listening to my pastor say concisely in every single sermon of his, “Obedience always brings blessing.” There would rarely be a Sunday church service where he didn’t say these words, and I am beginning to see why it is so important to obey God in everything we do, or say.
As His children, we are under His authority at all times. We can’t expect to receive all of what His promises are if we willingly chose to disregard what He says to us and do what we please.
I have a friend, who reached out to me and said “Sara, sometimes I just can’t tell if a thought is from myself or if it’s God speaking to me” My response to her was to look at James Chapter 1, where he talks to us about the Lord testing us to strengthen our faith.
God is very clear when He gives instruction, and as broken human beings we know the difference between right vs. wrong. The enemy uses tricks to tempt you into doing something wrong, by confusing you with your own thoughts vs. God’s. This is where we run into trouble because, we want to feel a sense of security by doing something apart from God’s will. However, the Holy Spirit is guiding us minute by minute to do what is right.
I pray that you will have the wisdom to know the difference between your thoughts vs. God’s, and that whenever a thought of your comes to mind and you feel you can’t shake it off, to pray and know that Jesus was also in the same boat as you, but was able to endure until He received the promises of God.
May God bless you on this cold, winter day and that you know how loved you are each and every second of your life!