“And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says, ‘My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.’ Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order 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.” (Hebrews 12:6-11).
This is a fascinating scripture that is set in a natural illustration of a father disciplining His children. We understand this but the spiritual reality is far deeper and rich in meaning. It is my belief that the defects in our spiritual character may be difficult to perceive by ourselves. We may ignore all sorts of temporal sin like pride, greed and selfishness as they manifest in our fallen human nature, how much easier is it to ignore our failure to follow the Holy Spirit’s voice within. Spiritually, we should be growing in the character of Yeshua, as we grow up into His likeness. (Rom. 8:29-30; 1 Peter 2:2). He was perfect in every way, but His life depicts a progression until He fulfilled His purpose on the cross, establishing reconciliation and freedom for all believers and victory over death. Our lives on earth also consist of a hidden life. (Col. 3:3). Both are clear before Father God, but it is the hidden spiritual life that He oversees and nurtures with such jealousy. (James 4:5).
How does God administer His discipline toward us? The Hebrew author answers in the broadest of terms, “Endure hardship as discipline”. To me this means, when we are faced with adversity and conflict, particularly, that which is not a direct consequence of our sinful or willful acts or failure to act appropriately, we can consider it an act of God’s providence. The intent of God’s discipline is for our good and so that we may experience holiness. Our natural mind thinks good is a lack of hardship, however, the virtues of the hidden spiritual life, such as, humility, contrition, holiness, self-sacrifice, redeeming love, consecration, etc. are found along the way of suffering, “the via dolorosa”. Yeshua was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, not only in His betrayal, arrest, beatings, trial, floggings, and crucifixion, but through many false accusations, misunderstandings, rejections, dishonoring, threats, attempts to stone Him, lies, and numerous physical hardships associated with the lowly life He lived. So, as He learned obedience through suffering, we must too. (Heb. 5:8).
It is this discipline that develops holiness, being godly, as we are made perfect as is God, when we love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. (Matt. 5: 44-48). When those who should love us hurt us; when we are betrayed by friends; when we experience unjust suffering, we are to endure it as discipline. How can this be for our good? Why must this hardship (utter pain) be suffered at God’s direction? The natural mind will never comprehend, nor will it accept, the truth of it, because this is understood only by the Holy Spirit and accepted only with the power of the Holy Spirit. Holiness and perfection are infinite terms and they are completed only in eternity. When God chooses to work Spiritual formation in temporal bodies of flesh, He creates or allows circumstances that grow, heal, or correct the Spirit within. “All discipline is unpleasant, but it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace, for those who are trained by it.”
By believing and realizing that Father God is at work through life’s difficulty we can get above the mental anguish of the natural mind with its tormenting questions, demands for justice, accusations, curses, judgment, revenge, self-pity, unforgiveness, blame, exaggeration, etc. As the Spirit takes precedence over the carnal mind, peace returns and ultimately we are trained to have spiritual eyes and ears and give way to the purposes of God for us. One of the first and ongoing lessons the Holy Spirit teaches me is to hold my tongue. In silence there can be a semblance of submission and resignation, even if it is not complete, a ground work can begin for true love and restoration within. This is not psychology. The prophets saw that, “He was led like a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb before its shearer is silent, so he did not open his mouth. In his humiliation he was deprived of justice. Who can speak of his descendants? For his life was taken from the earth.” (Acts 8: 32-33). Yeshua never uttered a careless word.
It has taken many lessons to think rather than speak and knowing that He is at work releases peace. Yeshua said, “Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. “Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets.” (Luke 6: 22-23). May the Almighty Father God have His good and perfect way in us.