What images come to your mind when you hear the word “discipline”? Perhaps being talked down to, or scolding a strong-willed child, or even the berating of a drill sergeant-type figure. Recently I discovered this image of discipline that has stuck in my mind:
Clearly, the notion of discipline as both saving and corrective in nature or even as training squares well with the character and ways of God – to say the least! So perhaps we can look at discipline as the bridge between where we are and where God plans for us to be (cf. Jer. 29:11).
The writer of Hebrews reminds his readers not to make light of the Lord’s discipline as it indicates God’s love for them. Moreover, believers need to submit to such correction and training because “God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness” (Hebrews 12:10 NLT). So the big question appears to be how much are we willing to endure to cross that bridge of training?
In Heb. 12:3–11, the analogy of a father’s method of training his son is used to help us understand and have confidence in God’s program of moral and religious education for His people. Author and speaker Jim Elliff captures the learning value of these times in his hymn “The Discipline of God is Strong”:
The discipline of God is strong
To make the sinning Christian bend,
Until affection, thoughts, and ways
Are each conformed to God's own end.
The selfish child must not forget
The Father's love is sometimes found
In troubles and hard circumstance,
And in the rough uneven ground.
Do not lose heart when you're reproved,
No matter how extreme the flame.
He turns the ground and burns the roots
Of suffocating weeds of shame.
We must not faint, nor are we free
To treat His love without concern,
When God takes love's severest course,
For lessons to be soundly learned.