The Good News About Discipline: Hebrews 12:9-11
“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. Hebrews‬ ‭12:9-11‬
Discipline is not about rejection, it’s about acceptance. This is true about earthly fathers, it is also true about our Heavenly Father. With proper discipline, we end up respecting our earthly father, the same should be true of our Heavenly Father.
The distinction is that an earthy father can be inconsistent or even abusive with discipline. God always gets it right. His goal is that we become righteous and holy. He wants us to share His character.
But let’s stand back and approach this from another angle. Some Christians believe it is possible to loose our salvation and get kicked out of Gods family. We are now forced to face the question; “Why does the writer of the book of Hebrews include this theme of discipline in the text?” God disciplines us because we belong to Him, not because He kicked us out of His family. Think about it, discipline is based on acceptance and not rejection.
Disciple is a process of parenting. It is part of training and nurturing. It has the end goal of helping us grow into responsible adults. I emphasize again, discipline is an expression of love, acceptance and correction rather than rejection.
The Biblical pattern is that when a Christian sins, the Holy Spirit beings conviction with the goal of confession and forgiveness. When a Christian turns from God and walks away, God is grieved. Fellowship is broken. That’s when discipline begins. God has strong corrective measures. But according to 1 John 1:8-2:2, Jesus continues as our advocate.
How long does discipline last? Until we repent and return to Him. But like the story of the Prodigal son, the Fathers love is never lacking. The moment we come to our senses, He runs to meet us. We might stray from Him, but He never gives up on us. The parable is more about the love and acceptance of the father than it is about the rebellion of the son.
The bottom line is that this theme about discipline in the book of Hebrews is good news! God is not cruel, abusive or vindictive toward us. He is patient and loving. His discipline always has the end goal of reconciliation and a family celebration.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global