CHRISTIAN LIFE & GROWTH
The Blessings of Divine Time Outs
When God Disciplines His Children
By Denise M. Kohlmeyer
Discipline. It's a topic of discussion that ranks right up there with sin. No one likes to talk about it, much less experience it. And, frankly, I don't think I've ever read an article or heard a sermon preached on this taboo topic either. It's almost as if we live in denial of it.
But we know that discipline (a.k.a. chastening) happens. If not from personal experience, then at least from those instances recorded in Scripture:
• Jonah, the prophet: thrown into the sea by terrified sailors and subsequently swallowed whole by a large fish after running away from God's directive to go to Nineveh and preach the gospel (Jonah 1:12).Initially, I tend to chafe under God's discipline — as I'm sure most of God's children do too. Over the years, however, I've found that there are certain blessings — yes, honest-to-goodness blessings — that come from being disciplined, blessings that I keep tucked inside my heart to encourage me, strengthen me in the midst of a Divine Time Out. If I bear these blessings in mind, I am more apt to graciously surrender to the discipline rather than fight it. And then it goes well for the both of us, for Father and Daughter.
• King David: chastened severely for his twin sins of adultery with Uriah's wife, Bathsheba, then having Uriah killed to cover it up (2 Samuel 12).
• Zacharias, the high priest: struck mute for nine months for not believing God, who promised that his then-barren wife, Elizabeth, would miraculously bear a son (Luke 1:5-25).
BLESSING #1: Discipline is Proof of God's Love
Proverbs 3:11-12 ESV
"Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline."
Revelation 3:19 ESV
We easily and eagerly accept the idea that God loves us when we are being good. After all, it's easy to love a child who's well-behaved. We struggle, however, with the idea that God loves us when we're acting badly, fearing that He loves conditionally and will withdraw His love because of our ill-behavior. We'd much rather He turn a blind eye to our bad behavior, look the other way, so to speak.
Yet, as any earthly parent knows, a child's bad behavior (i.e. name calling, hitting, tantrums, whining/complaining, back-talking, and a host of others) cannot go unpunished. The consequences, particularly if their behavior goes unchecked for any length of time, could be disastrous. Therefore, wise, godly parents appropriately discipline their child(ren) because they love them, because they delight in them, because they want to see them behave properly, biblically, keeping in line with God's holy standards.
How much more so with God towards His children's spiritually-bad behavior (known by that other taboo word: sin). As our Abba Father, our Daddy, God would not be the all-wise, loving and perfect Parent if He left our sins go unchecked. If we learn anything from the example of King David in particular, it is that sin left unchecked for some time could be to our spiritual detriment. And to the detriment of others too, as the secondary recipients of our wrong choices.
"Discipline is not to be confused with cold-hearted punishment. The Lord's discipline is a response of His love for us and His desire for each of us to be holy" (GotQuestions?org, "When, why, and how does the Lord God discipline us when we sin?")
Yes, discipline "for the moment...seems painful rather than pleasant" (Hebrews 12:11). There's no denying that. But if there is one thing to remember during the "painful" days of discipline, it is this: that God loves us, delights in us too much to look the other way.
Hebrews 12:5-10 ESV
Think on that last sentence for a minute: "If you are left without discipline...then you are illegitimate children and not sons." That's a powerfully profound statement worth meditating on!
Parents only discipline their own children, not somebody else's (although they may want to at times!). Parents will only correct the bad behavior of those who are theirs legitimately — those born to them biologically or adopted legally.
The same is true with God. He will only discipline those who are legitimately His children, those who have truly been born of His Spirit and thus adopted into His Kingdom Family (John 3:6; Ephesians 1:5). Otherwise, He would leave us alone, to live and luxuriate in our sin and subsequently pay the catastrophic consequences, both on earth and for eternity. That is an oh-so scary thought!
Yes, discipline may be unpleasant for a time, but I would rather endure God's discipline momentarily than suffer the alternative eternally.
And what a blessing that is!
BLESSING #3: God's Discipline Produces Righteousness
Hebrews 12:11 ESV
There is purpose in discipline, an end-result: righteousness. But here's the crux, only if we 1) contritely confess the sin(s) that caused the discipline in the first place (1 John 1:9), then 2) humbly surrender to God's corrective hand. Then, and only then, are we able to be "trained" by it.
The Greek word for discipline, paideuó, literally translates "to educate, train." In other words, discipline is how we are spiritually educated to behave biblically. We have a choice then: to yield or not to yield.
There are those, sadly, who will not yield under any amount of discipline. They are too strong-willed, obstinate. They want what they want! We see this in the lives of the ancient Israelites, whom God called "stiff-necked" and "stubborn." Many times! No amount of loving, disciplinary action on His part could bring them around, and, in some cases, they were so far gone in their sin that they were beyond being broken. Their behavior was so unrighteous that they had to be severely chastened, even put to death (Numbers 16:1-35).
But for those who choose to yield to God's mode of training, they will reap "the peaceful fruit of righteousness," both in their character and their behavior. Righteousness, díkaios, describes who or what is in conformity to God's will and standard of rightness. When we step off the path, God steps in — with discipline, to bring us back in line. And in the long-run, we will be found "guiltless (blameless) in the day of our Lord Jesus" (1 Corinthians 1:8).
God's loving discipline "makes us more holy, more dead to sin and the world, and more alive to God" (Albert A. Barnes' commentary, Notes on the Bible, Hebrews 12:11).
And what a blessing that is!
This is a unique way of looking at discipline, I own, but one that has enabled me — and now hopefully you — to endure with grace the times I have found myself in a Divine Time Out. I keep these precious principles tucked away in my heart, knowing that behind it all — though painful — is His unconditional love for me, proof of my legitimacy as His cherished child, and His deepest desire to conform my behavior and my character with His wonderful righteousness.
Image Credit: Jabiz Raisdana; "You can't always get what you want. #timeout is a part of life."; Creative Commons
Tags: Biblical-Truth | Christian-Life | God-Father | Sin-Evil
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Published on 7-4-16