December 17, 2017
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Endure Discipline

For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. - Hebrews 12:11

Every year I set one or more fitness goals. I find it necessary to have something to motivate me. You see, I have a form of “seasonal affective disorder.” I like being healthy and active, but in the cold and dark mornings of winter my body wants to stay in bed where it is comfortable and warm. So I set a goal and make a plan to force my body to exercise. It is a discipline: an intentional action, done consistently, for some long term benefit.

The writer of Hebrews stated it well, “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful.” It is not fun, but if I have set good goals I am motivated to push my muscles and lungs into service. They are strengthened by the work because it is hard. I put up with the pain for a purpose. It will produce a harvest later on, and I will be healthier and stronger because I force my body to do what it does not want to do.

Discipline of the Lord

… "My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by Him. For the Lord disciplines the one He loves, and chastises every son whom He receives." - Hebrews 12:5-6

I recall being asked by one of my second grade classmates, “Is your dad strict?” Everyone in our little Christian school knew that I was a preacher’s kid, so they were curious how my home life differed from theirs. I asked for clarification because I was unfamiliar with the term.

“Does your dad make you keep all the rules?” he explained. “And if you don’t, do you get punished?”

“Well, of course!” It had never crossed my mind that life should be any other way.

“Then your dad is a strict disciplinarian,” my friend said authoritatively.

My young mind accepted this information with childlike faith, and contextualized it through several ensuing conversations. Unfortunately, I came to believe that rebuke, reproof, correction, and punishment were all synonyms of discipline.

It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? - Hebrews 12:7

I did not like discipline. I wanted to follow the rules and live an orderly life, and it did not seem fair to be punished for doing my best. I did not want to endure discipline any more than I wanted to deserve it.

My cognitive dissonance cleared up when I came to understand the scripture better. God’s discipline is not reproof or punishment. The terms are not synonymous.

Notice that “it is for discipline that you have to endure.” In other words, hold fast and press on through discipline. The purpose of discipline is to gain strength and ability.

However, verses five and six make a distinction between discipline versus reproof and chastisement. These latter two terms are corrective in nature. The purpose of a rebuke is to lead a son to repentance. We should not endure or press on through our error, but change quickly.

Punishment is a form of pain that accompanies correction. The purpose of that pain is to get you to change. Suffering is a form of pain that can accompany discipline. The purpose of that pain is to make you stronger. Understand the difference and you can avoid unnecessary pain and be made stronger by temporary unpleasantness.

Godly Goals

A good coach knows how to develop a disciplined approach to training. Some days are filled with the hard work of strength or resistance exercises. Other days are given for rest and recovery. When you follow the plan you get good results.

The Lord is the best coach. He knows exactly how you are made, what you need, and how you are responding. He creates a perfect fitness plan to prepare you for peak performance. His great love for you will guide you far beyond all you can ask or imagine. He knows how to bring out the best in you.

There are times when you will understand the plan. It will make sense to you because you see the end goal. There may be other times when you cannot comprehend the plan. It will make no sense to you because God’s vision is much higher than yours. A good son follows the instructions, trusting the Coach to guide with wisdom.

Ask God to show you what you can know about the following:

Spiritual Disciplines. Learn about His plan by which you will grow in spiritual maturity. It may include quiet times, prayer retreats, Scripture reading, memorization, meditation, and worship. Follow His instructions.

Physical Disciplines. Learn about His rules to live by and you will grow in strength and stamina. It may include strength training, flexibility, personal records, and Sabbath rest. Follow His instructions.

Emotional Disciplines. Learn about His ways by which you will return to joy and walk in confidence no matter what happens around you. It may include memorization, testimonies, journaling, and songs of joy. Follow His instructions.

For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Thank the Lord when you are facing hard things. He is your perfect Coach. He knows what is good for you, and He loves you.

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