Why We Should Want God’s Discipline

Dear Roger,

My friend and I got into a discussion about whether or not God would actually hurt or punish a Christian. I said, “No. He loves us too much.” He said, “Yes. He loves us too much not to!” 

What do you think?

Sincerely, Alex

The Value of Discipline

Dear Alex,

Your friend wins!

I think that most everyone agrees that children who experience little or no discipline often grow up to be stubborn, unmanageable, misguided, and rebellious teenagers and adults.

Therefore, it should come as no surprise that because we are His spiritual children, our Father in heaven has every intention of disciplining us so that we will grow up to be effective, strong spiritual mothers and fathers.

I watch a lot of families when Julie and I go out to eat. Whenever I see well-behaved children sitting with mom or dad or both, I always walk over and say, “Excuse me, you must be great parents. Your children are so well behaved.” Mom and dad grin from ear to ear. It’s quite clear that these children have been carefully disciplined and will grow up well.

So let’s consider a few things.

1. Discipline is a requirement for Christ followers.

“The Lord disciplines the ones he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.” (Hebrews 12:6)

When you choose to trust Jesus Christ as Savior, you will soon discover that some of our teachers are named “Pain” and “Suffering.” We have all experienced heartache, broken relationships, broken homes, disease, loss of a child, being misunderstood, financial difficulties, wayward teenagers, and on and on.

In our sin-filled, imperfect world, life hurts. And when God chooses to allow us to experience pain as discipline, we can respond in two ways: embrace and overcome the pain with His help, or fall into a spirit of bitterness and anger. Your choice. 

2. Discipline proves that the father loves us.

“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.” (Hebrews 12:5-6)

When troubles set in and trials arrive, most of us react first by wondering, “Am I really saved? If I were really saved, why am I having all these problems? Has God forsaken me? I’m a Christian; I’m not supposed to have so many problems. If God really loved me, He wouldn’t let these things happen to me.”

Certainly he would! The troubles prove that He loves us.

C. S. Lewis observed, “We want not so much a father in heaven as a grandfather in heaven whose plan for the universe is such that it might be said at the end of each day, ‘and a good time was had by all.’”

It takes a lot of love to carry out consistent discipline for a child. Pity the poor child whose parents don’t love him enough to discipline him or her consistently.

3. Discipline proves that we belong to God.

“Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father?” (Hebrews 12:7)

Think about this: God does not punish or discipline unsaved people in this life. They are not his children. He saves their judgment for the Great White Throne Judgment when their sins will be exposed and all will be cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:11-13).

Unsaved people are Satan’s children, and he wreaks havoc upon them.

“If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all.” (Hebrews 12:8)

Simply stated, a person with no problems is illegitimate and not a Christian. Discipline is not brought to us in spite of our following Christ; it is because we are following Christ.

4. Though painful, discipline is ultimately valuable.

“Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live!  They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:9-11)

Never did one of my children look at me after disciplining her and say, “Boy that was a great delight, Dad. Thanks so much. Let’s do it again soon!”

No child likes discipline, but as parents, we must never lose sight of the goal. Discipline produces a “harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”

Well Alex, I hope my thoughts are helpful in giving you a little more material for you and your friend to discuss.

May God grant you and your friend many good years ahead.

Sincerely, Roger