4 You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin; 5 and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons, “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, Nor faint when you are reproved by Him; 6 For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, And He scourges every son whom He receives.” 7 It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9 Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. 11 All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.
I’ve thought a lot over the years about discipline. To me, it is quite a heavy responsibility to be responsible for the bringing up of two children. Don’t get me wrong, it is also such a great privilege, but I also know that one day I will stand before God and give account for what I have done with these two precious lives that He has entrusted to my care.
I recognize that this passage out of Hebrews is referring to the hardships we experience in life, but I think at the same time it can give us insight into the heart of the greatest Father. See it is “those whom the Lord loves” who “He disciplines.” In fact, discipline is so central to who God is as Father that if we didn’t experience discipline and correction then we should wonder if we are His kids at all.
I don’t know about you, but for me it is extremely difficult to see my children suffering. When Ellie is snubbed by friends or ridiculed by jerks, my heart wants to swoop in and save the day. When Clark was younger he got detention for his chronic irresponsibility and came home crying. In my heart, I want to do anything to take that hurt away. I think this same compassion drives many of us parents to at times hold back on real, significant, painful consequences for lying, cheating, deception, disrespect, disobedience, and the myriad of other bad choices our children make. Instead, we tend to replace consistent consequences with convenient ones. Or maybe we come down with the hammer, only to soften once the emotion of the moment has passed.
Are we treating our kids more as friends than children? Are we fooling ourselves into believe that they can be both? You see our perfect Father knows that shielding our kids from painful things and holding them back from appropriate discipline robs them of “the peaceful fruit of righteousness,” and it typically robs us of their respect (v. 9). As hard as it is in the moment, I need to be thinking less about my hurting heart and more about what is best for Ellie and Clark long term. At least in my experience, more times than not those things are not in harmony but are at odds. While, contrary to the belief of our children, discipline typically does hurt us more than it hurts them, following through with appropriate discipline is always best for them. And isn’t that what being a parent is essentially about?
May we choose to love our kids the way God loves us by choosing to discipline.