The Pain of Discipline

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.


One of the most difficult things to accept is correction and discipline.  It seems to go against every natural fibre of our being.  Our first reaction is to defend ourselves, defend our actions.  To simply swallow the criticism or openly accept the discipline often causes a pain in the depths of our stomach.  Discipline is not pleasant, it is painful.

As an athlete I have had to receive correction and discipline from various coaches and I recall even receiving correction from the captain of a team I played for.  I was a fairly good soccer player as a boy and I loved to run so I never wanted to get off the soccer pitch.  In fact from the age of 5 to probably 14 I was never substituted from a soccer game – I played every minute.  In the 10th grade of high school I was the youngest player on our varsity soccer team, but I still cracked a starting spot on the senior soccer team, even with boys as much as 3 years older.  Again I played every minute of every game until later in the season when surprisingly I was replaced by a senior.

I was not impressed by the coach and frankly I was embarrassed.  I had never sat on a bench before during a soccer match and I had no idea what I had done to deserve this.  I hadn’t played poorly and I had always prided myself by working harder than anyone on the field – but there I sat.  To cover my humiliation, I and others on the bench jokingly called each other names like “piner” (referring to riding the pine bench) and generally causing a bit of a raucous.  At half time the captain (a senior) came over and publicly lambasted me using not-so-very gentle words to describe me as an immature, inconsiderate spoiled brat, who couldn’t even consider the feelings of a senior who had quietly ridden the bench all year (behind a 10th grader); a senior who finally had a chance to play before graduating and never playing again.  I have never felt as small as I did at that moment; it is engraved in my mind and as the years go by the magnitude of my actions have become even more poignant.  While Jesus certainly would not have used the same words the captain used when addressing me, I know God used that guy to give me the correction and discipline I so greatly required.

Hebrews 12 verses 4-11 is a passage worth reading because it explains why God disciplines us as Christians, as his children.  Without discipline we remain immature, selfish children; that is what we naturally are in the flesh.  Through unpleasant discipline God moulds us into the vessels he desires us to be – vessels that resemble Him more and more every day.

The next time you find yourself being disciplined by God (and recognize that this discipline may come through very imperfect human hands), recognize that God is allowing this or causing this because He loves us as a father is supposed to love his children, and His desire is that this discipline will produce a harvest of righteousness.

Humbly accept the discipline and make the adjustments that the Holy Spirit places on your heart, and you will experience his peace as he trains you.

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