Hebrews 12:3–11 (NKJV)
This passage explores the value of discipline or, to use the more archaic word, chastening. The image of corporal punishment comes to mind here, which is not necessarily in vogue in today’s vernacular. However, the principle is still clear: discipline from a father or mother exacted on a child provides a needed act of direction and teaching. Discipline is valuable when offered with love and concern more so than with hatred and anger.
3 For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. 4 You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin. 5 And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons:
“My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD,Hebrews 12:3-6
Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him;
6 For whom the LORD loves He chastens,
And scourges every son whom He receives.”
The author of Hebrews here addresses the hostility that Jesus underwent in providing salvation to mankind. Sinners mocked Him, beat Him, convicted Him falsely, and crucified Him. Knowing the depths of pain that Jesus felt for you and me, we should not become weary or discouraged. Instead, His example should propel us forward to serve Him in spite of the cost. Unless you have been martyred for your faith, you have not yet experienced the greatness of the suffering of Christ. Hopefully, you will never face that fate, but even if it becomes so, it will not be unreasonable. Trouble, in this case equated with discipline, will come to believers (and all men and women for that matter), but that trouble can be seen in a positive manner. If a person sins, then trouble will follow, but that trouble can serve as discipline to show us that our actions are wrong. The writer reminds the reader of the passage from Proverbs 3:11-12 instructing the son to be encouraged, not discouraged, when chastening comes. Discipline is a sign of the love of God. When chastened or rebuked, consider it a blessing from God, for He loves those He chastens and receives those who are corrected.
7 If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? 8 But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. 9 Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. 11 Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.Hebrews 12:7-11
Chastening is the normal action of a father correcting his son. If you endure discipline, then God is treating you as a son. In the time of the apostles, it was very normal for a father to chasten an unruly or careless son. If a young man had no discipline in his life, he was most likely an illegitimate boy, without the guidance and wisdom of a father in his life. He was likely to turn to crime or evil without this fatherly guidance. Sons who received the discipline of their fathers paid respect to them and found their way to a respectable life. The question posed here is reasonable: “Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live?” If our fathers chastened us in the flesh to our benefit in the short time we grew up in their households, then the Lord’s chastening will help us for a lifetime, that we might be holy as He is holy. No chastening seems joyful in the moment it is measured out. It can be painful and unpleasant. In the end, though, it produces righteousness leading to the fruit of peace for those who have been trained by it.
When facing trials or even the consequences of wrong actions, it is possible to see it as bad luck or misfortune. The right way for a Christian, especially, to deal with trouble is to see it as an opportunity for learning and growth. What is God trying to teach each of us in the midst of our loss or trouble? When we become able to reason that out and see the hand of God in what is happening in our lives, we can navigate the trouble more easily. I do not always have the answers for those who are suffering, but I know that God does have the answers. He can make sense of whatever evil we face, and can help us learn and grow through it all. It has been said that whatever does not kill you only makes you stronger (Friedrich Nietzsche). While no ones wants to face the type of trouble that could kill, the response to the trouble is the learning experience. Don’t let trouble kill you. Use it as a tool or opportunity to live, and live better. This is the value of discipline.