Read Hebrews 12:1-11
One of the marks of a good earthly father is his ability to exercise appropriate discipline. If you, as a son or daughter, experienced that in your relationship with your father, you can be grateful. If you as a father demonstrate(d) that in your relationship with your children, you are not only training your kids but also modelling the response of your Heavenly Father.
But what is discipline? The word has many meanings. Among other things, it can refer to a field of study, a form of punishment, a corrective effort, or imposed limitations or directives. But, no matter how the word is used, “discipline” has a largely negative overtone. We cringe at the idea.
The author of Hebrews, however, is encouraging us to see discipline differently. Indirectly, he paints a picture of what a father’s discipline should look like. More directly, he allows us to gain perspective on the discipline we experience at the hands of our loving Heavenly Father.
Here are two importance principles about discipline:
- Discipline is painful (v. 11) but beneficial (v. 10). I still remember the tears or sometimes even anger of disappointment when I would discipline our kids. When any earthly father says “No,” it hurts. When he uses corporal punishment, takes away the cell phone, or gives a time out, it isn’t pleasant. But he has good intentions. He desires to teach an important lesson. In like manner, the hardships of life that your Heavenly Father brings/allows are not always enjoyable, but He does so for our benefit, “in order that we may share in his holiness.” (v. 10)
- Discipline is an expression of a loving relationship (vv. 6-8). When our kids were growing up and playing with children from the neighborhood, I did not consider myself responsible for disciplining the other kids. An earthly father should take responsibility for disciplining his own kids. His discipline is an indication of his love for his own. If you experience the discipline of the Lord, you can be assured that it is an expression of the love He has for you as a son or daughter.
Dads, through discipline, we bear the weighty responsibility of lovingly guiding our children towards Christ-likeness.
For all of us, we are instructed to demonstrate respect (v. 9) and endurance (vv. 1, 2, 3, 4, 7) in the face of discipline. Respect your earthly father and your Heavenly Father because their discipline is grounded in their vision for a better version of you. Demonstrate endurance in the throes of discipline because short cutting it also reduces the harvest of righteousness and peace (v. 11).