For the Love of Discipline
We all need at least one of those friends who will tell you when you have spinach in your teeth. Or toilet paper stuck to your shoe, or peanut butter in your hair. We appreciate those people, we thank them for their honesty, and we maybe turn a shade of crimson while they help us clean it up. How much more do we appreciate the one who stops to let us know about danger on the road ahead, or who warns us about a wild bear in the area. Now let me ask, do you ever get angry with those people? Resentful? Bitter? Have you blamed the friend for the spinach stuck in your teeth? Of course not… so why do we blame God? We have this false view, that God is the one who smeared peanut butter in our hair. He tore down the bridge on the road ahead, or released a wild bear in the area, or cursed us with cancer, or took that relationship away, or is causing this pain to teach us something. It’s time to put that gospel to rest, because I don’t find it anywhere in my Bible. God is the friend who lovingly points out the problem before it gets too big. He’s the one putting up warning signs, flagging you down, and sometimes putting the spikes up to blow your tires before you go off the road.
Every single time God acts in your life, it is motivated by love.
This is hard for us to fathom because we have no physical representation of that here - no matter how great your loved ones are, they will never be able to love you like He does. Every correction, direction, provision or lack thereof, is motivated by His great love for you. There is no circumstance in your life that is a result of God punishing you. You know this is true, because you know that your sins are all paid for. The cross of Christ was full atonement for your sins, and there is nothing you could do, say, or endure that would further atone. We need to be reminded that Jesus on the cross is as real in this moment as it was two thousand years ago.
The Lord disciplines those who he loves (Heb 12:6). This is probably our biggest defense of this false gospel - all kinds of evils in this world have been attributed to God, and backed up by this verse. Let’s look at the scripture in context:
"In this all-out match against sin, others have suffered far worse than you, to say nothing of what Jesus went through—all that bloodshed! So don’t feel sorry for yourselves. Or have you forgotten how good parents treat children, and that God regards you as his children?
My dear child, don’t shrug off God’s discipline, but don’t be crushed by it either. It’s the child he loves that he disciplines; the child he embraces, he also corrects.
God is educating you; that’s why you must never drop out. He’s treating you as dear children. This trouble you’re in isn’t punishment; it’s training, the normal experience of children. Only irresponsible parents leave children to fend for themselves. Would you prefer an irresponsible God? We respect our own parents for training and not spoiling us, so why not embrace God’s training so we can truly live? While we were children, our parents did what seemed best to them. But God is doing what is best for us, training us to live God’s holy best. At the time, discipline isn’t much fun. It always feels like it’s going against the grain. Later, of course, it pays off handsomely, for it’s the well-trained who find themselves mature in their relationship with God." Hebrews 12:4-11
Do you see? God never disciplines to punish us, He disciplines to love us. You cannot separate the discipline of God from the love of God. The more you get to know the story of God & Israel, the more you will come to love discipline. If you don’t have time to read the whole old testament right now (womp womp) at least look at Hosea. I’ve never read a better love story.
One of my kids was having a rough day yesterday and heading into a tantrum. He was half way up the stairs when I saw the legs and arms start to flail, and frustrated noises bubbling up inside of him. I swooped that little body in close, and hugged him tight. I temporarily removed his freedom and forced him to receive a hug. The arms & legs relaxed and he melted into me. What felt like punishment to him at first was actually a loving discipline. I could foresee the consequences ahead of him, and I so badly wanted to stop him from hurting himself.
Most of the time we won’t understand if our current pain is a result of the discipline of God or the brokenness of this world. The great thing is, we don’t actually need to know the answer to that. It’s the wrong question, because we know that God is a good and loving Father. If it was Him, He is saving you from something worse and will bring something good from it. If it wasn't Him, He will bring something good from it. Beloved, God will always bring something good from your pain. He does not always cause it, but He will always use it to draw you closer, to display His glory, or to be a voice of truth & comfort to others. Pain is inevitable in this world, but growth is optional. The right question is, how can I draw near to God right now?