“The Lord disciplines those He loves” (He 12:6)
When my sisters and I became teenagers and we were being sassy or mean to each other my Dad always said the same thing, “You need an attitude adjustment!” We knew we had better change our tone and behavior or he would get busy changing our attitude himself, whether we liked it or not. It wasn’t always easy to swallow down the feelings and words but we knew there would be no second warning and his discipline would be swift to follow unless we obeyed.
Even though as adults we have outgrown our parents’ discipline, we will never outgrow God’s. Titus 2:11-12 tells us, “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in this present age.” The Greek word used here for “teaches”, according to Lexical Aid to the New Testament by Spiros Zodhiates, is the same as “discipline” and means “to bring up a child; to educate”. It particularly relates to the moral and spiritual nurture and training of a child in order to influence their conscious will and actions, or in other words our attitude and actions.
We are instructed in He 12:7 to “endure hardships as discipline; God is treating us as His children.” Further, in verses 9-11, the Hebrew writer explains that our earthly fathers disciplined us as they thought best and we respected them for it. However, God disciplines us for our good so that we may share in His holiness and live. No discipline is pleasant to endure, but if we submit to it and allow God to train us by it, it will produce a harvest of righteousness and peace within us.
When we feel ourselves under the discipline of our Father, we need to:
- Let it happen by submitting to Him and not ignoring His parental rights to us. Although God teaches each of us differently through varying earthly trials, I think most of the lessons center around the same types of things I have learned from Him over the years, for example: greater dependence on Him, humility, training for even more difficult matters in the future, the difference between right and wrong, and to pull our attention back to Him and away from ourselves.
- Allow Him to change our mindset or attitude and then to purposefully and willingly let our actions be impacted by Him. Our actions are a direct result of our attitude. If we allow Him to have control of our mind, then our actions, or acts in the body, will follow.
- Remember the reason for discipline, as described in He 12:10, is “so that we may share in His holiness.”
Holiness unambiguously explains God’s fundamental character; He is holy. We are called to be holy, to be made in the image of Christ. “Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy, without holiness no one will see the Lord”, He 12:14.
We become holy through faith in the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ (He 10:10). When we are united to Christ through baptism we take off the old self of sin and death and become a new creation. We are born again as a child of God and, just as earthly children resemble their parents and have similar characteristics, we take on the attributes of Christ, including His holiness. “Just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written ‘Be holy because I am holy” (1Pe 1:15-16) and “You ought to live holy and Godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming” (2 Pe 3:11-12). The apostle Peter also says to, “prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled…As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. ” (I Pe 1:13-14). This brings us full circle back to the idea that our mind, or attitude, is directly linked to our actions. Our attitude and actions reveal whether we have learned from His discipline and allowed Him to teach us how to make an “attitude adjustment”, to live “holy and Godly lives”.
Discipline is hard but the end result is definitely worth it because it’s benefit is of immeasurable worth. “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life (Ro 6:22)!
To the glory of God!