God loves and cares about us. He wants us to be happy even though it may not always fell that way. He like any good parent is going to discipline us when we stray from the way he wants us to live. He does not discipline us out of anger but from love. We’ve sinned, and he wants us to repent and turn from our sins. Sometimes, he needs to get our attention.
Rick Warren writes: “God is more interested in your character than your comfort. God is more interested in making your life holy than He is in making your life happy.”
The following verses assure us of what God’s discipline means for us:
Job 5:17-18 – Blessed is the man who God corrects; so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty. For he wounds, but he also binds up; he injures, but his hands also heal.
Proverbs 3:11-12 – My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.,
Proverbs 10:17 - He who heeds discipline shows the way to life, but whoever ignores correction leads others astray.
Proverbs 12:1 – Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid.
Hebrews12:7 – Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons.
Hebrews 12:10-11 – Our fathers discipline us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
Revelations 3:19 – Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent.
The discipline I received as a child took on different forms, sometimes a spanking, other times being deprived of the TV, as I grew older grounding to the house was used. The discipline that I hated most was being told how disappointed my Mother was in me. The discipline was meant to be both punishment and character building. I believe I can feel God’s disappointment when I’ve sinned.
God’s discipline does not take the form of punishment! Billy Graham writes: “God does not discipline us to subdue us but to condition us for a life of usefulness and blessedness. In his wisdom, he knows that an uncontrolled life is an unhappy life, so he puts reins on our wayward souls that they may be directed into the paths of righteousness.”
One commentator looks at God’s discipline as three forms: warning, disciplining and chastening which he believes are all somewhat different. I looked up the dictionary definition of disciplining and chastening. They are very similar, but discipline can be used to mean training while chastening can be used to mean rebuking. Regardless, the outcome of God’s discipline is to create a change in us.
1 Peter 1 starting in verse 3 tells us that God has given us a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Verse 6: “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith …. may be proved genuine….”
What trials does God use to discipline us? The commentators offer many different thoughts, but most agree that he will use anything to discipline us. The following is a collection of their thoughts:
+ Paul had a thorn in his flesh that he asked God three times to remove. God told Paul that his grace was sufficient and did not remove the thorn. Some believe that the thorn was a speech impediment while others believe it was some other physical problem. Some believe that Paul’s struggle with those who tried everything or anything to stop his ministry were his thorn causing him great stress. Most of them agree that it was due to Paul’s pride. God wanted him more humble.
+ One writer believes God uses financial burdens to discipline those that are not good stewards. A couple with a lot of debt came to him for counseling. His first question was the amount of their contribution to the church. They were not contributing anything to the collection plate on Sunday. This minister believes God was using the financial burden to get their attention. The couple gladly accepted his blessings, and he wanted better stewardship.
+ Another commentator believes God will use shattered relationships as a form of discipline. You may have a friend that’s hurting your relationship with God. It could be a spouse that’s causing you to turn from God. It seems extreme to think that divorce, breaking up a family, would be used but we must trust God’s discipline.
+ Will God use our health as a form to disciple us? Sometimes the disease is just a natural result of life, but writers do believe God will use poor health to get our attention.
Please forgive the personal reference but over the past four years, I have given a lot of thought to this question. The stroke could have killed me which Kay thought was going to be the result. Over the four days of the stroke, I got worse every day. It could have ended with me being an invalid. On day five, my speech was unintelligible; the only thing that I could swallow with difficulty was liquids, and I had no control over my right side. After a long period of inpatient and outpatient rehab, I can eat solid foods, about 80% of the use of my right side has returned, and my speech even though still difficult to understand is better. Was the stroke meant for a warning, discipline or chastening? I do not know. I will confess though; I’ve never been one to tell others about what God has done for me in my life. Now I freely share with people that I am blessed because of what could have happened. God rescued from death and from being an invalid! Maybe God’s intent was for me to share with others what a great God he is!
+ One thought offered is that God uses other people to administer his discipline. Proverbs 27:6 tells us that wounds from a friend can be trusted. Maybe we should listen carefully when friends try to counsel us. It could be God!
One of my favorite books is On The Anvil by Max Lucado. It compares discipline in our lives to the tools that a blacksmith creates and reshapes on the anvil to make them useful. God’s discipline is to make us useful in his kingdom. “Anvil time” is God’s discipline.
He writes: “Time on God’s anvil should clarify our mission and define our purpose. When a tool emerges from a blacksmith’s anvil, there is no question as to what is for. As a human being emerges from the anvil of God, the same should be true. Being tested by God reminds us that our function and task is to be about his business; that our purpose is to be an extension of his nature, an ambassador of his throne room, and a proclaimer of his message. We should exit the shop with no question as to why God made us. We know our purpose.”
“In a world of confused identity, in a world of wavering commitments and foggy futures, let us be firm in our role. Society is in dire need of a quorum of people whose task is clear and whose determination is unquenchable.”
Take time to consider the hardships you are enduring. Is God sending me a message that I need to make corrections in my life? Is he steering me to be more productive in his kingdom? Pray that you may clearly understand his discipline. Then ask for his guidance and strength to take his correction and direction. God is channeling our lives for his and our good!
On The Anvil by Max Lucado
Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Copyright 1985 - Max Lucado
Used by permission