Discipline is necessary for an orderly society, and yet it appears that discipline becomes weaker and weaker in every generation. What ever happened to discipline?
The Bible has a lot to say about discipline. In the creation story, God said to Adam, “You are free to eat from any fruit in the garden, but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die” (Genesis 2:16, 17). Adam and Eve broke God’s law, and because of God’s discipline, death passes to all people.
When the Israelites were going to pass into the Promised Land, the Lord took Moses to the top of Mount Nebo and showed him the land He had promised to Israel. Then the Lord said to Moses, “This is the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob when I said, ÔI will give it to your descendants.’ I have let you see it with your eyes, but you will not cross over into it” (Deut. 34:4). This was Moses’ punishment for being disobedient to God.
Our test for today is this: “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” (Prov. 3:11, 12).
The Bible makes it clear that God disciplines us because he loves us. His loving hand is at work as much through life’s crushing times as it is in times of joy and pleasure. To put it another way, a mother’s hand is at work as much when she is disciplining her child as when she is comforting him.
Today’s text has advice that shows how personal the relationship between God and his people can be.
“Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. 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 our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, 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 more important that we understand how God disciplines us. I find it easier to understand his discipline when I think of God using circumstances in my life I have brought on myself. He did not send them. However, when the difficulties came, God used them. I learned that when I live contrary to his will, I can expect to suffer from those decisions.
To illustrate Ð Mary has a poor marriage. She sheds many tears over the relationship between her and her husband. Not knowing what to do, she wonders where God is in all of this. Is this God’s punishment?
God’s hand is in this heartache. He told Mary in his Word that she should not be unequally yoked with an unbeliever. Mary knew before the marriage that Bob was an unbeliever, but she disregarded God’s Word and did what satisfied her emotions. She was in love with Bob and planned to convert him.
God does not remove his counsel and say, I understand your emotions. Go ahead and marry Bob. We all have a free will to go contrary to God’s Word. However, when we do so, we then have to suffer the consequences that go with it.
Understanding God’s punishment, how do people respond?
1. God doesn’t seem to enter into the picture at all. He has no personal relationship with people. Bad marriages are just the reality of our day. So try again; learn from the past and don’t live in it.
2. Mary feels forsaken and has anger in her soul. Why are you doing this to me, God? What kind of a loving Father would not let me get out of this marriage with Bob in some way and feel good about it? Does God not have to adjust his will at times to different cultures? Christianity does not speak to our day.
3. Mary is broken. She is repentant. Yes, Lord. I understand. Now how can I learn from this tragedy in my life? I know you can use evil for good, and I believe something will come out of this failure on my part to make it one of the strongest hours of my life. Regardless, I know you will never leave me nor forsake me.
It is evident that discipline seems to be a forgotten word in our day. We see this in government, business, education, church, and every other part of life. Let us thank God that he still disciplines. Let us pray this biblical truth may somehow find its way into our lives lest we live in complete chaos.