“The Lord disciplines those He loves.” Hebrews 12:6
Most people do not like the word discipline. It typically carries with it a negative connotation when it represents the imposition of someone else’s will upon ours. By nature we love our independent self-willed ways. All of us were first introduced to discipline through various methods of parental discipline and then later learned more about discipline in kindergarten and elementary school. For most it was a mixture of good and bad experiences. Sadly for some it was all bad.
Years ago we were counseling with a woman who had been raised in an abusive, authoritarian environment. The enforcement of discipline in her life had been harsh and unloving, inconsistent and often unjust. Having become a Christian in her early twenties she was struggling greatly with the whole concept of God’s discipline in our lives.
I will never forget our meeting with her when the Lord graciously opened her mind and heart to see that His discipline is equated with His love. As we were praying for her, the Lord began to heal her of all the bitter past experiences of ungodly discipline. And then suddenly she erupted with joy and laughter. The divine revelation of God’s love had permeated her being and she saw for the first time that His discipline in her life was the seal of His love for her. Oh the joy!
One of the misbeliefs that the young woman had about discipline is that she equated it solely with punishment. But in an instant she saw that God’s discipline is much more than the meting out of consequences for misbehavior. She realized that it is the transformational process that God uses to fashion His children into the image and like-ness of Jesus His son. (Colossians 1:28 & Hebrews 12:10) Correction is just one aspect of God’s involvement in producing righteousness in our lives.
Divine discipline is best characterized by the word discipleship. Discipleship begins with the teaching of God’s character and ways through the truths of the Bible. The Apostle Paul tells us that “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.” (2 Timothy 3:16 NLT) Correction is the tail of the process and not the head.
God’s discipline begins with His speaking truth into our lives. His truth illuminated by the Holy Spirit has transformative power. “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32)
The captive heart of the young woman we prayed for was literally set free by the truth of God’s love for her. It forever changed her attitude toward her heavenly Father. For the first time in her life she was able to see discipline as an expression of love meant to transform her life for good. She was delivered and healed from all the ill effects of misapplied discipline. She could embrace the discipleship process God was initiating in her life to make her more like Jesus.
What have you learned about discipline, especially God’s discipline in your life?
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