He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share in His holiness
Hebrews 11:32-12:13 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
And what more shall I say? For time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets, 33 who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. 35 Women received back their dead by resurrection; and others were tortured, not accepting their release, so that they might obtain a better resurrection; 36 and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated 38 (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground.
39 And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, 40 because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they would not be made perfect.
12 Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
3 For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
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.
12 Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble, 13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed.
The writer of Hebrews says: Let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Matthew 6:24 Jesus says: “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other.” We must determine either to lay aside sin, or we put Christ aside. If we fix our eyes on Jesus, we can no longer run after the things of the world. Many think that faith in Christ is limiting and restrictive. In truth though it is living apart from Him, holding on to sin that encumbers us. In our culture and society stress, anxiety, fear and depression are at all time highs. These scourges do not discriminate based on age, gender or ethnicity. Prescriptions and medications are handed out by doctors and pharmacists, not as remedies, but rather to treat the symptoms. Christ offers a cure. In Matthew 11:28-30 He says: “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Not only should we fix our eyes on Him, we should affix ourselves to Him. In Matthew 17:20 Jesus says: “Truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.” Jesus is the author and perfecter of our faith, but it is not a matter of the amount or the size of our faith; He must also be the object of our faith. In John 14:12-14 He says: “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father. Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.” We can move mountains not because of our great faith, but rather because our faith is in His greatness. Our faith is in the one who created the mountains.
Speaking of God’s discipline, the text says: He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. 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. We need to recognize that there is a difference between discipline and punishment. Not all discipline is punishment and not all punishment results in discipline. Punishment carries out the negative consequences of judgment against those who have done wrong. Discipline instructs and teaches us to do what is right. Our society has moved away from the importance of discipline for children. In turn they grow up not knowing what is right and become subject to punishment. We blame society for the wrongs done by people who were not taught what is right. Society may well be to blame, but not for the actions of those who do wrong, but rather for not teaching and disciplining them to do what is right. God doesn’t punish us for doing wrong. He will allow us to suffer and endure the consequences of our actions so that we will learn to choose more wisely. If I put my hand on a hot stove, the burn and the pain I receive is not punishment, it is the consequence of my poor decision. If I don’t learn and make the same decision, the pain is still not punishment. It is a consequence of my decision. Romans 8:28-30 says: God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. God doesn’t cause the bad or difficult things that happen in our lives. Some are consequences of our own decisions. Some are the consequences of other people’s decisions and some are merely the consequences of living in a fallen world; a world that has chosen darkness rather than light. God will use all things for our good. He will use them for our instruction and our discipline; to teach us and to glorify us by conforming us to the image of Christ. That is His plan and His purpose for us, that through Christ we would be restored to the image and likeness of God, as He intended from the beginning. Those who are disciplined are disciples. Christians are to be “little Christs;” disciplined and instructed to become conformed to the image of the Lord.
Thank You heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ and precious Holy Spirit that as I fix my eyes on You; as I affix myself to You and as I learn from Your loving discipline, I become more like You. May I increasingly know the peaceful fruit of righteousness as I become conformed to Your image. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.