Church Discipline: An Echo of Our Fatherly Care

Hebrews 12:5-11 says, “And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?  “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him.  For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”  It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?  If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.  Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live?  For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness.  For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”

In this passage the author of Hebrews lets us know three things at least:

a) Don’t forget who you are.  We who have placed our faith in Christ are sons and daughters of the King.  We forget that.  We especially forget that when we undergo church discipline.  Notice that’s how the passage begins?  Even in His Fatherly discipline, God is gracious so we don’t forget we are His.  Do not be weary, the Lord only disciplines those who He loves.  God is treating us as His children.  After all, if you never receive discipline from God there is a question as to whether or not you are His.

b) Discipline is not pleasant.  We all remember this right?  When we were kids, maybe even a little older?  Our parents disciplined us when we did wrong.  Why?  They love us, and do not want us to go astray so we must learn what is right and what is wrong for us.  Discipline teaches us this.  Even so, it is not fun, pleasant, or cheerful to go through such times.  No one likes it, I would even say no one seeks it out.  Discipline is usually brought to us by another for our own good, and the other person means our good no matter if we recognize this.

c) Discipline is glorious.  Note the end and purpose of our Father’s discipline?  “That we may share in His holiness.”  What is better than that?  Few things, if any.  All discipline seems painful at the moment, but the fruit it yields is massive.  Those who know this, treasure this, and even then it is still hard.  But in this dreadful discipline there is still hope.  Why?  Because Jesus is not only with us, He’ll carry us through our Father’s discipline and will never let us go.

So if you find yourself in the midst of the discipline of the church, take care, they are doing this for your good and for God’s glory.  Listen to them, submit to them, respect them, repent before them.  God is making you into what He has already declared you to be – righteous.

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