Discipline out of Love
5 And you have forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons:
My son, do not take the Lord’s discipline lightly
or lose heart when you are reproved by him,
6 for the Lord disciplines the one he loves
and punishes every son he receives. (Hebrews 12:5-6)
Continuing on with this theme of trials and challenges, the author calls the readers to remember the words found in Proverbs 3:11-12:
11 Do not despise the Lord’s instruction, my son,
and do not loathe his discipline;
12 for the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
just as a father disciplines the son in whom he delights.
Once an individual becomes a follower of Christ, they are now adopted into God’s family and are considered His children. Therefore, when trials and difficulty come in life, the author tells them to have a perspective shift. We should not view these trials as a reason for discouragement, but rather, a sign of God’s love for us. As the readers were struggling with sin, God gave them these trials as a form of discipline to turn them away from what they were struggling with.
A good parent, when they see their child doing something wrong, will tell them to stop and discipline them in order for them not to do it again. For example, let’s say a parent sees their child playing with the stove. Instead of allowing them to continue to play with the stove and potentially experience extreme bodily harm, the parent would tell them to stop, take them away from stove, explain why they are going to experience discipline, and discipline them. To the child, it may seem painful to experience this discipline in that moment, but in the long run, they will remember this. Also, that form of discipline would pale in comparison to the potential long term ramifications if they were allowed to play with the stove, such as permanent injury and/or death.
In the same way, God knows that sin is destructive, and would harm the lives of His children. Therefore, He will discipline them to have them turn away before things get worse in their lives. “For the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23a).” He does this discipline, not out of malice or cruel pleasure, but out of love. So, both the readers of Hebrews and us today, if we are believers, and if we experience trials in our lives, we should evaluate on whether or not we are actively sinning. If so, God is sending these trials out of love to get our attention and turn back to Him. May we not “take the Lord’s discipline lightly or lose heart when you are reproved by Him.”
Isaac De Guzman