For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness. Hebrews 12:10 NLT
Knowing the D’s of discipline is important.
My great-grandparents did it unto my grandparents. My grandparents did it unto my parents. My parents did it unto me, and I did it unto my children. Now, my children do it unto my grandchildren.
Discipline. A tricky word. And not everyone agrees on the adverb questions surrounding it: when, where, how, how often, why, under what conditions, and to what extent.
My father had a clear and consistent plan. He knew everyone didn’t agree with it, but neither did he care. He was responsible for my brothers and me, and he disciplined us as he saw fit. His methods weren’t up for debate, and he didn’t care what we thought about them. Nor do I ever remember him asking my opinion.
For obstinate rebellious behavior, my father had a buckleless black belt—one he no longer wore. He applied a certain number of licks for certain behavior, which he had thought about ahead of time. This way, he didn’t go beyond what he should have. He applied the licks to my dairy air, and nowhere else. Abuse never entered the picture, nor did his methods damage my self-esteem.
But he used other methods more often than he did the belt. He loved to take things away from me—things I enjoyed. Otherwise, the discipline wouldn’t do its trick. And the thing he loved to do most was to make me get a haircut. I was a hippie teenager living in the ‘70s and loved my long hair. Nothing galled me more than having it cut when I didn’t want to. After all, this discipline affected me for some time. Hair grows slowly, so the lesson continued to have its effect long after the initial shock.
Although I hated the discipline when it came, I knew my parents did it out of love—something hard for an underage dependent to admit. The writer of Hebrews compares a parent’s discipline to God’s—only God’s is perfect, whereas no parents’ is. God uses the D’s of discipline, and they also provide an excellent example for parents.
Doer. Discipline has a doer—someone to carry it out. Dad did it most of the time, Mom only occasionally. But God did it all the time. When we are His children, He wants to ensure we obey His commands and directives. He knows we might not like all of them, or enjoy obeying them all of the time. Still, He disciplines because He loves.
Destination. God’s destination for us involves a harvest of righteousness. Hopefully, parents want the same thing. Although Christ clothes us in His righteousness from the moment we trust Him as our Savior, we do not behave ideally. God works in our life through various disciplinary measures, attempting to make our practice match our position.
Desire. God’s desire for His discipline is that we submit and learn. Discipline, by its definition, should involve learning. Rebelling against God’s discipline only makes Him turn up the heat. Submitting and learning keep us from repeating the behavior that led to discipline in the first place.
Don’t buck against discipline when it comes from God. Let it accomplish the goal for which He gives it.
Prayer: Father, help us learn from Your discipline, knowing it originates out of love.
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