“My son, do not reject the discipline of the Lord . . . for whom the Lord loves He reproves.” Proverbs 3:11-12
Can God trust you with the keys to His car? It all depends on how well you have responded to His discipline in your life.
In a recent post I established the fact that God’s discipline in our lives is an expression of His love. (A revelation of discipline and love) Since that is true, how then do we recognize His discipline and come to embrace it with an obedient response?
The goal of God’s discipline is to conform us to the image of His son, Jesus Christ. That transformation process is meant to move us from a self-centered lifestyle to a Spirit-controlled life. The Holy Spirit, as the Third Person of the Trinity, is the transformation agent who implements Jesus’ will and Lordship in our lives.
It is helpful in understanding God’s discipline to consider why and how a good parent disciplines their children. If you think about it, a parent’s discipline of their child stems from their loving care and a desire for their well-being. Good parenting essentially expresses itself in protecting a child from harm and equipping them to live productive lives. As a child matures into a young adult, parents exercise less external control as the child learns the internal governance of self-control. The test of a parent’s success and rite of passage for their son or daughter is handing them the keys to the family car.
God does the same thing in our lives. He wants to train us to listen to the internal governing voice of the Holy Spirit. He would much rather gently nudge us by His Spirit than control us like a stubborn mule with a bit and bridle. (Psalm 32:8-9) He has something much more valuable than the family car to entrust to us however. He wants to entrust to us the work of His Kingdom and the great privilege of representing Him in every situation and relationship.
The discipline or training process typically progresses through three different levels of communication: instruction, warnings and correction. It begins with instruction when the expectations are delineated and the consequences for compliance or non-compliance are spelled out. Then warnings and encouragements for adjustment are given when expectations are not being met. And finally, if warnings are not heeded, correction is meted out.
This pattern of God’s discipline is demonstrated throughout the scriptures. God’s giving of the law on Mount Sinai and His subsequent dealings with the children of Israel in the wilderness is one of the best examples of this. The undoing of most of the people in the wilderness was that they did not benefit from the discipline process. They saw God’s works, but they did not learn His ways.
Responding to God’s discipline and learning His ways is a matter of attitude. How we view God’s discipline in our lives makes all the difference in responding appropriately. An attitude of humility and implicit trust in God goes a long way in empowering the change initiated by the discipline. That will keep us from falling into one of the two ditches the writer of Hebrews warns us about – either ignoring it or being undone by it. “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you.” (Hebrews 12:5b)
Next time, the five ways God disciplines us. Do you have any insights on God’s discipline?
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