“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 12:11
Discipline should be a lively topic in our homes. As fathers and mothers we ought always to be reminding our children of the reasons for discipline. And as we explain these things, the text before us today should frequently be on our lips. “Now no chastening [discipline] 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.”
Notice that the author of Hebrews tells us two things about discipline that we can pass on to our children but which we should also be passing on to ourselves. After all, first and foremost this passage concerns the way in which God disicplines us; only by analogy does it discuss an earthly father with his children. What then do we learn about discipline?
First, we learn that discipline is painful. No discipline seems enjoyable at the time it is administered. Its intention is to be painful. And so, you children out there, when your parents get out the rod to spank you or when they give you consequences for your sinful behavior or when they refuse to give you permission to do what you want – don’t expect this discipline to be enjoyable. Hebrews tells us that the whole purpose of the discipline is quite the opposite: it is supposed to be painful. For it is the pain that teaches us to avoid that pattern of behavior in the future; the pain that trains us and fashions us into mature men and women.
Most of us parents are adept at delivering this lesson to our children. But how often do we deliver this message to ourselves? Brothers and sisters, the discipline of the Lord does not seem pleasant at the time. When the Lord puts us through some trial or when the Lord disciplines us for violating His commandments, why is it that we expect things should be jolly? He is sharpening us; disciplining us; chastening us. We expect our children to know what those things mean; so why do we have such a hard time letting it soak in to our own consciousness? No discipline is enjoyable at the moment.
But this is not the only thing we learn about discipline. While discipline is painful, it is not intended to end in pain. The ultimate goal of the Lord’s discipline, as should be the goal of parental discipline, is the cultivation of the peaceful fruit of righteousness in our lives. Our Lord promises to use discipline to make us more lovely, mature, godly people. He is training us unto righteousness.
But note that this righteouness is not an automatic biproduct of discipline. If we are to see the fruit of righteousness in our lives then we must, in the words of our text, be trained by the discipline. In other words, we must take the discipline to heart and learn from it. We must not harden ourselves to the discpline; must not complain that we have been treated ill; must not kick against the goads. Rather we must bow the knee before our Lord and learn the lesson.
And so, children, how are you responding to the discipline of the Lord through your parents? Are you bowing the knee? Are you acknowledging the authorities that God has placed over you and submitting yourself to them? Does discipline produce in you the peaceful fruit of righteousness? Or is it instead producing anger, resentment, bitterness, complaining, grumbling, or depression? And what of us adults? How are we responding to the discipline of the Lord? Does discipline produce in us the peaceful fruit of righteousness? Or does it instead produce anger, resentment, bitterness, complaining, grumbling, or depression?
As we come into our Father’s presence this morning let us kneel and confess that often we have not received His discipline as we ought.