“For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.” (Hebrews 12:6, AV)
When I was growing up, my dad was not really a church going kind of person. However, I believe that he knew one biblical concept pretty well. “Spare the rod and spoil the child.” The writer of Proverbs stated, “He that spareth his rod hateth his son” (Proverbs 13:24, AV). I can definitely tell you that my Dad did not hate me for he truly did not spare the rod. In Proverbs we also read, “Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die” (Proverbs 23:13, AV). This must be true because I am still living to talk about it. No, my dad was not abusive, but he did discipline us kids. I still remember some of the spankings I received as a child. Yet this discipline had its positive effect in my life. I was not spoiled.
When I worked for a European company years ago, I remember a true story that someone told me regarding a son who was never disciplined. His father owned and operated a very successful business. As his son was growing up, he would often get into trouble. His father would always bail his son out of it. When the father became old, he turned the successful family business over to his son. However, due to the son’s lack of discipline, the business struggled and eventually went bankrupt. The spoiled child grew to be a spoiled man who ended up failing in business.
The writer of Hebrews here introduces the issue of God disciplining His children and presents several principles that we should remember. We must remember that Jewish believers to whom the writer addressed this letter were undergoing persecution for their departure from traditional Judaism to trusting Jesus as their Messiah. They were enduring struggles and various trials. He previously reminded them that they had not endured anything close to what Jesus had on the cross. Here he quotes from Proverbs 3:11-12 to show that God uses these sufferings to discipline us in love.
Love is this is the key to proper discipline. The loving goal of a father is to improve the life of the child and not to destroy the child. A loving father desires the best for the life of his children and he knows that there are certain essential qualities that must be developed in the child, if they are to successfully negotiate life in adulthood. Discipline is essential.
This is the way God disciplines us as believers. He does not want to destroy us. However, He still disciplines us by allowing certain hardships to come our way. These are all designed to mold us closer to the image so that those around us will see the qualities of holiness in our lives and reflect upon the magnificence of God’s grace in our lives.
In this section of Hebrews, we see a few key principles that should encourage us when suffering or hardships come our way. This is the first one. In our discipline, we can understand that God truly loves us. If He did not, He would just let us go on our merry way without any correction and stay on a path towards failure and destruction.
(More on discipline tomorrow.)