Hebrews 12 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it
I always took great pride in working hard on all the teams I played for. Running was a central part of soccer so when the varsity team ran laps, I always ensured I finished ahead of everyone else (it didn’t hurt that I really enjoyed running anyways). I tried to listen to coaches and their instructions and left everything out on the field each game. As a result, I really didn’t get that much discipline from coaches and I got lots of playing time. When I was in tenth grade, I made the senior varsity soccer team and in fact was a starter, ahead of players who were as much as 3 years older. Near the end of the season I was pulled from a game and replaced with a senior and I made a stink about it. I was embarrassed. The captain of the team called me out at half time, in not so subtle terms. Rather than being happy that a senior could get some playing time, I only thought about myself. I was deeply embarrassed, and that discipline hit me right in my gut.
I’m blessed to have a good friend Doug who I have known my whole life and with whom I have logged thousands of miles on long bike rides, runs, cross county ski trails, and in the pool. He is also the person who has called me out more than anyone else, particularly in our younger years. As an engineer, tact wasn’t one of his greatest strengths, but I always knew his intent was right, and he was a follower of Christ, so I endured the sting knowing that God was speaking through him to discipline me.
That’s the thing about discipline and correction. It hurts, but only for a time if you deal with it well – with humility. And don’t be surprised if God also uses people other than Christians to correct you. While the soccer captain was far from a Christian example and his language wouldn’t be welcomed in a church sanctuary, I learned a very godly lesson about humility that I will never, ever forget. God used a very imperfect vessel to correct a very imperfect vessel – me. The writer of Hebrews sums it up very well:
7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? 8 If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. 9 Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! 10 They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12: 7-11)
Our perfect Father loves us and desires that we become more like him and unfortunately there is no short cut – it comes through discipline. And discipline hurts. It doesn’t “seem pleasant at the time, but painful”. Ahh but the promise that come from God “for those who have been trained by it” – “it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace”. As an athlete you understand the concept of disciplined training and the positive results that come when you train diligently. It is the same with our personal, spiritual discipline.
The next time you are disciplined, consider if God is using someone as his hands and voice to discipline you and to “share in his holiness”. Perhaps you can develop a new mature attitude toward discipline in your life and accept it eagerly because God is taking the time to mould his child into his likeness. How exciting! This is the “solid food” that Paul talks about (1 Corinthians 3:2, Hebrews 5:12). Eat it eagerly.