“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.