Today’s reading is Heb 12/Ps 20
Discipline is Loving?
Heb 12 is so full of powerful and meaningful messages, I am having a hard time deciding what to focus on today. The first few verses seem to be taught often and memorized by many that have grown up in a church. I would guess because the writer is so clear in giving instructions to help us continue to grow in our faith. Strip off the weight that slows us down, especially sin, so we can run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Him. Then in verses 3 and 4, we get a bit of more specific help that is not talked about or quoted quite as much as vs1-2. vs3-”Think of all the hostility He endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up. vs4-After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin.” So if you are feeling tired in your “race” right now, think of how Jesus was treated and then killed and maybe your struggles don’t seem quite so severe. It is a very sad and difficult way to be encouraged, but it actually does help. When we take our focus off of our own struggles and think on far harder and more unfair circumstances than our own, our difficulties seem smaller than they felt before we considered Jesus. It changes our mindset enough to help us have the grit to continue striving for what we are aiming at.
Next we move into a section of verses dealing with God’s discipline. I’m pretty sure that it’s not news to any of us that discipline is painful and unpleasant. Why does something have to be painful or unpleasant for us to learn from it? Discipline doesn’t sound very loving so why does God choose to use it? Below are several reasons God brought to mind to help me see His love and protection in discipline.
*We are stubborn and strong willed people who don’t very often learn well from others mistakes. Most of the time we need to live through a situation to actually own the lesson.
*God uses discipline to set us on the proper path. We very rarely wander on our own to the best things for us. We prefer the easier path with less friction. God is trying to train us in His right way of living because He cares for us.
*God wants us to be more like Him so he uses discipline to shape us and change us. We will usually choose the simplest and most pleasant path possible which leaves us very much the same as when we started…selfish. God’s discipline is always intended to direct us to greater holiness. Holiness is about making God bigger, not ourselves.
*Sometimes God uses discipline to turn us away from harm. We are so narrow minded and self centered that sometimes God has to use discipline to get us to look outside of ourselves and see a bigger picture. We forget that His view is so much broader than ours and that He knows more than we do. I think we often miss seeing things He is protecting us from because we can’t see past the end of our own noses.
Last, I couldn’t help but wonder what benefit or up-side there is for God in disciplining me. The answer, I think is none. There is no benefit for Him. The only motivation for Him investing in me is His love for me. It takes more of His time and energy to teach me a needed character trait or a new attitude, but because His love is so much bigger than I can understand, He actually WANTS to invest in you and me. Today, I am overwhelmed by His love and desire not only to save my life, but to go beyond rescue, and actually take the time to help me change. Vs 8-If God doesn’t discipline me as He does all of His other children, it means that I am illegitimate and not really one of His at all. My heart is melted today that God wants me to be one of His children. The truth is that I am worth filthy rags to Him without Christ purchasing me, washing me clean and working in my heart to make me more like Him. The Creator of the universe, the One who stops the waves on the shore, the One who calls the sun up every morning, the One who fills my lungs with air, sees value in my filthy rags, and wants to rescue and change me. “Thank you” is too small. I can not express my gratefulness this morning.