Do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor faint when you are reproved by Him. For those whom the Lord loves, He disciplines. (Hebrews 12:5,6)
A theme for me over the past few years has been Discipline. The word has always had a negative connotation for me; to be disciplined was a bad thing. But recently the Lord has been bringing His discipline to my life, and it has been very good. I won’t say it has always been pleasant, but it has been a blessing.
The first step to understanding the goodness of God’s discipline is accepting Christ’s authority. Jesus teaches the truth about man and God, and there is no other way to understand things of eternal worth than by being a follower of Jesus—a disciple.
How to think about discipline: one very simple analogy has come to mind. When you comb or brush your hair, you bring discipline to it: order, beauty, and rest. It’s a daily discipline that brings obvious results. Failing to practice this discipline also bring obvious results. One must exert a certain amount of force to discipline hair, and it’s always successful when the hair “submits.” And certainly, we don’t comb our hair to punish it or because we are angry with it.
This is a limited analogy, but it helped me to understand that God does not discipline us to injure, limit, or punish us. He disciplines us because He wants us to be beautiful, at peace, and conformed to His perfect will. “God disciplines those He loves.” God loves you, and His love will be shown at times through discipline.
All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. (Hebrews 12:11)
Make no mistake, being disciplined will be unpleasant or difficult much of the time; it involves a death to self and acceptance of God’s will. I’m sure you fail in self-discipline or self-control—we all do to some extent. All of us have qualities which are not pleasing to the Lord, which are sinful, which hinder our ability to know Him more fully and serve the people around us. God says, “Anything that is not of faith, is sin;” and “Be perfect, as your Heavenly Father is perfect.” As hair submits to the comb, as a good child submits to loving discipline, so our souls must submit to God’s guidance. And God’s promise is that He will give us abundant life; a life that is much better than our life before His discipline has had its effect.
Here is how this has worked out for me in the past. At one point, I realized that I needed discipline in an area of my life, and I was not able to follow through on my desire to grow in this one area. So, finally, I prayed and said something like “Lord, I do not have the ability to do what is right, I need self-control and self-discipline, but I don’t have it in me. So, I submit to your discipline and ask you to discipline me according to your will. How would you like me to conduct myself? What are specifics that will bring godliness to my life?” Then, I sat there with a piece of paper and a pencil and wrote what I felt the Lord was calling me to. I wrote down four simple things. Then I set my heart to submit to Him. These four things (which are not what I expected to hear) have brought discipline to my life in a very good way. I’m sure that there will be more discipline to come, and I welcome it.
I encourage you to seriously seek God and be willing to accept His discipline. When we know that something is God’s will, we have much more power to persevere. Be willing to change; don’t tell God what to do, and don’t play games with Him. If you falter, remember that His mercies are new every morning; as you grow, thank Him and give Him credit for the good things He does–for He works in us to will and to do His according to His purposes. As a loving child, wait patiently for your Father’s kindness as He raises you to be the person you were created to be.