Americans have taken a funny position culturally and personally lately whereby we equate love with blanket acceptance and affirmation. “Unconditional love” is our battlecry and we consider reproof to be unloving. It used to be common sense at least to discipline children, but the erroneous belief that we are born morally good has led many parents to believe conversation and logic alone will lead children to make the right decisions. And our culture is reaping the consequences.
“He who withholds his rod hates his son,
But he who loves him disciplines him diligently.”
– Prov 13.24
Discipline is a sign of love.
While this is observed easily and clearly in child rearing and the debate over spanking, I want to focus more intentionally on the place of discipline in a mature believer’s walk.
How far along are you on the path to maturity, Spiritually? We joke about adolescence and normal growth patterns, that teenagers know everything and disdain their parents’ and their advice. But then, somewhere around 20 years of age, most children begin to realize that their parents did indeed know what they were talking about, and are quite enjoyable to be around. We say, in academia, that the more you learn, the more you realize that you do not know. Maturity often times, when it has its true fruit, results in humility and self awareness.
Using that framework, consider your spiritual maturity and walk with the Lord. Are you a toddler, holding onto your father’s hand for every step? Are you a grade school child soaking up everything you can find with zeal and vigor? Are you an adolescent who thinks that you know everything and need no one to teach you? Or are you an adult, realizing how small of a grasp you have on your heart and sin, continually growing, continually clinging to God for strength and enjoying being with Him?
The author of Hebrews promises that God will discipline His children. If you have never been disciplined by the Lord, then chances are high that you do not know Him.
“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
nor faint when you are reproved by Him;
For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines,
and He scourges every son whom He receives.”
– Heb 12.5-6
Just like we will discipline a child differently at different ages, God will discipline us differently at different points in maturity. You do not spank an eighteen year-old, and you do not ground a one year-old. You reason with an adult child, and you instruct a toddler. There may be times that God has to take away your “toy” if you are selfish with it, or misbehave with it, but in general, God knows that a mature believer knows His heart and His will (because He has written it on the believer’s heart – Jer 31.33, Heb 8.10), and will recall Scriptures to mind in order to draw him back to repentance.
Consider your Spiritual maturity. Are you still learning to walk? Fighting the elementary battles of belief and obedience? Are you still drinking Spiritual milk?
“For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant.”
– Heb 5.12-13
Or have you grown in maturity through drinking the milk of the Scripture and discipline, and now enjoy the meat – the word of righteousness? Do you throw tantrums when God does not give you what you want? Or do you trust His sovereignty and wisdom over your life and ask Him what He does have for you when thing do not turn out how you expected or hoped? Do you submit and confess your sins when you are convicted in your heart and spirit, or do you make excuses and point fingers?
God knows everything.
“And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.”
– Heb 4.13
And it His will that all believers grow in holiness – Christ-likeness – sanctification.
For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God; and that no man transgress and defraud his brother in the matter because the Lord is the avenger in all these things, just as we also told you before and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification.
– 1 Thess 4.3-7
And in order to help us grow, God writes His law on our hearts,
“But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the LORD, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.”
– Jer 31.33
And He will discipline us in order to bring about maturity.
“For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines,
and He scourges every son whom He receives.”
– Heb 5.6
So let’s slow down today. Let’s check our hearts and how we receive His discipline. Let’s humble ourselves and submit to the rules and standards that God has set, because He is God and we are not. We do not get to define sin, righteousness, or how things should work. He does. He will not allow us to grow up to be spoiled believers.