The Lord Disciplines the One He Loves
This is the whole point of Hebrews 12:3–11, the clearest explanation in the Bible of the profound good we receive when God disciplines us.
We often don’t recognize God’s discipline when it sets in, even if we’ve prayed for it. That’s because it usually looks different than we expect. Therefore, we cry out to God in our distress and disorientation. And God answers,
“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)
In other words, “Don’t be afraid. This is from me, and it’s because I love you.” We often respond, “But Father, this is too hard! Please stop!” And God replies,
It is for discipline that you have to endure. [I am] is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, [you] have had earthly fathers who disciplined [you] and [you] respected them. Shall [you] not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined [you] for a short time as it seemed best to them, but [I] discipline [you] for [your] good, that [you] may share [my] holiness. (Hebrews 12:7–10)
In other words, “I love you too much to stop the good coming to you through this discipline.” We might respond, “I want your good, Father, but I don’t think I can endure this! It’s too painful!” To which God says with kind, wise, loving firmness,
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)
In other words, “Trust me. My grace will be sufficient for you in this pain and afterward you will never regret the painful training” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
The Lord disciplines the one he loves. That means there are dimensions of God’s love we can only know through his discipline. And there are dimensions of peace and godly fruitfulness we will only know through his wise, rigorous training, a program individually tailored by him for us.
Whatever It Takes, Lord!
That’s why a Christian Hedonist prayerfully welcomes and even pursues the Father’s discipline. It is a sign of spiritual maturity, desiring real treasure more than passing pleasure (Hebrews 11:25–26).
If we wish to avoid our Father’s discipline, and don’t ask him for it for fear that he just might answer, we are thinking and reasoning like spiritual children. We are, in effect, saying “no thanks” to God’s offer of mind-blowing, soul-enriching, faith-strengthening, joy-increasing good—the inexpressible joy of sharing God’s holiness and all the benefits it brings. We decline the gain of being strengthened to comprehend the love of God that surpasses knowledge because it costs us short-term pain (Ephesians 3:18–19).
Let us pursue spiritual maturity. Let us not allow our flesh’s short-term objections and bankrupt desires to dictate our spiritual progress (Romans 6:12) by making this our frequent prayer:
Whatever it takes, Lord, discipline me for my good that I may increasingly share your holiness and bear the fruit of righteousness.