“For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.” (Hebrews 12:10–11, AV)
In the previous post, we considered that God disciplines those whom He loves like a father disciplines his own children. There are some very important aspects of this discipline that, if we understand them, will help us to stand firm when hardship comes our way. One of those, I mentioned in the previous devotional. When God disciplines us through suffering, we know one very important thing. God loves us (v5-6)! He loves us enough to keep us on a path that leads to life, one that is for our own good.
Second, His discipline affirms to us that we are His children, born by the Spirit of God into His family. The writer indicates that in our sufferings, God is treating us as sons (v7), and that without His discipline we would need to consider ourselves as illegitimate children (v8).
So, we see that this discipline is a proof, so to speak, of God’s love for us as His genuine children. Yet, the question that remains is, why does He discipline us since it is so difficult? In Hebrews 12:10-11, we have two grand and connected purposes of this discipline. God disciplines us to “be partakers of his holiness,” and that the “fruit of righteousness” may be manifested in our lives.
The author stated that all discipline seems painful in the present. When my brother and I would act up as young children, and we would get a spanking, I tell you it did not feel good. However, in it, we learned a lesson. What was the lesson? Well one was don’t do that again. Yet, there was something much greater that we were learning in the discipline. We learned that there was authority, rules, and expected behavior in accordance with authority. What was happening to us as children was not just to know if we did a specific thing that we would bear the consequences of doing it, but our entire character was being shaped. We were learning to respect authority and the rule of law. We were learning to take responsibility for our actions. We were being prepared to be responsible adults in society.
In the same way God disciplines us for a glorious purpose. He disciplines us to shape us into the image of His own Son, Jesus. He is developing in us a characteristic of holiness and righteousness that otherwise would not be there.
Oh, I know that part of this growth in holiness and righteousness is the shaping of the mind through word of God. However, the unfortunate part is that we do not study enough and even when we do intellectually understand certain things from our study of the Bible, we just seem too thickheaded to put it into practice. There are certain things we just cannot get without going through the school of hard-knocks. We are just like a child when the father says, “Don’t do that” and we do it anyway. The only way we really understand is through discipline.
Yes, we might be able to reduce the severity of some trials if we could apply our biblical learning better. However, the reality is that there are certain things that we will only learn through trials. One thing we must remember is that the goal is to make us holy and display the fruit of righteousness. At the end of the trial of suffering we will look more like Jesus than when we entered it. So, endure with patience. There is a purpose, even if it is unpleasant at the time.