HEBREWS 12:4-17 (NIV – UK)
God disciplines his children
4 In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5 And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says,
‘My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,
and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
6 because the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.’ [Proverbs 3:11-12]
7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? 8 If you are not disciplined – and everyone undergoes discipline – then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. 9 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! 10 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. 11 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.
12 Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. 13 ‘Make level paths for your feet,’ [Proverbs 4:26] so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.
Warning and encouragement
14 Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. 15 See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. 16 See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son. 17 Afterwards, as you know, when he wanted to inherit this blessing, he was rejected. Even though he sought the blessing with tears, he could not change what he had done.
ENDURE HARDSHIP AS DISCIPLINE
If you have received Jesus – if you follow him and are untied to him – you are truly a child of God. We can observe from the world around us, and perhaps even from our own experience, that any effective parenting technique always involves discipline. Here in Hebrews we are even told: ‘If you are not disciplined – and everyone undergoes discipline – then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all’ (v. 8).
Our heavenly Father is infinite in wisdom and has the most wonderful plan and design for our lives. The problem is, our fallen nature means that we constantly drift from his path, wandering off in all sort of directions. Discipline helps us to stay on course – to learn the ways of Jesus. We are told: ‘God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness’ (v. 10).
The idea of being disciplined by our Father might provoke all sorts of reactions in us – confusion, injustice, anger. But it is precisely those reactions that show we do need to be kept on course and ‘submit to the Father’ (v. 9). It is the very same heart of rebellion that we see from Adam and Eve in Eden.
So when we are enduring hardship we must always remember the goodness of our God and that our heavenly Father wants the best for us: ‘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’ (v. 11).
Question: What hardships have you experienced recently? Can you think of any examples of where you have grown spiritually after enduring hardships?