Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children…. If you are not disciplined then you are not legitimate children at all. ~ Hebrews 12:7,8
Discipline. Hebrews 12 is full of uncomfortable words! Can we please change that word to training? Endure hardship as training. Why does training sound better than discipline? Maybe because we think of discipline as what someone in authority does to those under them: parents discipline children; disciplinary action is taken when someone does something wrong. But discipline is not always and should probably not be seen as a reaction to wrong. Unless it results in changed behavior it is nothing more than punishment.
God disciplines not to punish but to train his children.
My dad’s real estate office was in our house when I was growing up. We tease about being trained at a very early age to write out cash receipts. If someone came to pay rent, we were never to send them away just because Mom or Dad wasn’t there to write the receipt! The person giving us the money usually didn’t hesitate to leave their payment because they knew we were Dad’s kids.
I saw another example of discipline/training this week at the park. It was a cute puppy on a leash for the first time. She was determined to pull away but the owner kept control with no problem. The puppy was a pitbull. I was told they can be wonderful pets but they must be trained. I expect the leash was a bit frustrating to that cute little thing, so full of energy and curiosity. But to stay in the owners protective care, the dog had to be trained.
Do you see the connection? God disciplines us not to punish but to train us. He is probably proactive more often than we realize. Just as my dad didn’t wait until someone was at the door with money to teach us to write a receipt and the dog owner put the leash on the dog before she ran off, God knows what he expects of his children. We can be prepared and equipped to handle any situation we face if we submit to God’s discipline.
Our greatest training is learning to listen and respond to God as he speaks through his Spirit given to us by Jesus Christ. My Mom and Dad weren’t always around so I had to remember how to write the receipt. The Spirit of God lives in me. Every experience of seeking God’s guidance in my struggles is training to listen for him. The training results in a life that represents the family of God because of the Father’s discipline.
How do you view discipline? When have you seen discipline as proactive in work, school, family relationships or personal goals? When have you seen discipline as reactive? How did the results differ? Do you see God as a proactive trainer, a reactive punisher or somewhere in between? How would the different views change a persons perspective of God? What are you struggling with today? How can viewing your struggle as training ground change your perspective and your handling of the situation?