Ever have one of those days when you feel like you’ve been put on a time-out that was never going to end, like the punishment was never going to end? I was having one of these days, I was feeling sorry for myself and wondered if all of my current struggles were just payback for all my past mistakes. Did we really do this to ourselves? are we paying the ultimate price for it? Will it ever improve?
It’s pretty easy to allow yourself to fall into that headspace…after all hindsight is 20/20, everything is significantly clearer when looking backwards. Sadly, I had been allowing myself to dip deeper into this thought pattern for the last little bit and today it weighed heavily on me. So when I finally decided to open my Bible and spend some much needed time with the Lord, I came upon Hebrews 12, my eyes quickly locked onto the words about Discipline…see God was telling me it was all my fault… He even confirmed that it was painful and I could attest, my life felt pretty painful right now. How easily we can be led astray, based on the emotions we are feeling if we allow ourselves to.
Yet strangely… at the same time that I was confirming my self-defeating thought patterns, I could feel another pull, but this one felt gentle and warm, quite different from the judgemental feeling pulling me in this proverbial tug of war. This doesn’t happen often to me, but when it does, I’ve learned that I need to open my eyes and my heart to something new, so I read the text again… and I’m so glad I did, because once again our Amazing Father was opening my eyes…teaching me more about him. Let me explain.
What do you think of when you hear the word “Discipline“? Do you think of ‘time outs’ or other ‘ behaviour modification’ methods? I have to admit that I always looked at discipline as an external; something that was done to us. As I studied this passage God opened my eyes to something new… all these years I had it wrong.
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary Defines ‘Discipline’ this way: to punish or penalize for the sake of enforcing obedience and perfecting moral character. I’m pretty sure that I’m not alone in this understanding of what discipline was … after all, I remember the spankings and the tears. (not saying that they didn’t enforce better behaviour in me though… just saying)
The problem is, when I think of God, do I see Him as the Cosmic punisher using Devine Discipline on his children every chance he gets? That simply doesn’t reconcile with allowing his own Son Jesus to come to earth to take the punishment that we deserved. So what does this actually mean? To try and understand, I decided to go back to the Latin root of the word so that I could see what was originally intended in this message.
The word ‘Disciple‘ comes from the Latin word ‘disciplus‘ which means ‘student‘ The word ‘Discipline‘ comes from the Latin word ‘disciplina‘ which means ‘ instruction or training‘, and this is derived from the Latin root word ‘discere‘ which means ‘to learn‘, you might recognize our modern word discern in there as well.
Whew, aren’t you glad I did that homework for you… although I must say, I found it fascinating. When you look at the word discipline from a vantage point of learning or training of a student, the onus is on us as the disciple or student to do the learning, therefore my conclusion would be this is actual an Internal action verses an external one…of something being done to us verses something happening in us.
When the writer of Hebrews was speaking to the Jewish Christians, he was not trying to scare them into obedience so that God didn’t strike them down by reigning punishment upon them. Yet, sadly this is what many people believe about God today.
What he was actually saying is that as Christ followers, we need to be students and learn and grow in our understanding. Sometimes learning is frustrating, painful and difficult, but it will produce much good in us.
I have to say, I Love this new visual of the original intent. I Love to learn and I yearn to grow, and yes I stumble and fall then get up and start over again… this is the discipline I suffer through… my own failings and weaknesses, not a Devine Judgment. God wants us to mature and grow in our relationship with him, the punishment has already been paid through the sacrifice of Jesus on that Roman cross for our sins.
I am not a Bible scholar, but as I searched I could not find the word Discipline in this context used in the Gospels, I obviously find Disciple which as I mentioned earlier means student. But in the context of Jesus sacrifice it does not appear to be used… even though He was clearly providing a solution to the ‘punishment’ that we deserved. I wonder if that is because over the years we have altered the word from the original intent, Even Jesus said that “He was giving His life, it was not being taken from Him”… This was Choice not Enforcement… context changes everything, Thank you Father!
Thank you for your Word. Thank you that even when it is difficult to hear we are able to learn from it, and if open to you it will bring healing. Lord God, forgive me for being discouraged and for losing hope (even if only momentarily) in this time we are in. Thank you for reminding me that you only correct those whom You Love and call your Children. Thank you that I can learn and grow.
Lord God, You know all the poor choices and decisions that were made in the past that has brought us to this place of difficulty we now find ourselves in. It took many years of those choices accumulating into this “Giant” that has now been created. We also recognize that there were outside forces at work, trying to draw us away from you. Therefore, help us Lord to be patient and learn well during this process of learning.
Thank you for loving us as our own Father and caring for us enough that You chose to correct us, teaching us to follow your perfect ways which our much better than our broken and often times foolish ways. We understand that this time of teaching is for our own good, help us to learn from it and hold onto You for strength during it.
Forgive us our weakness Lord, this process is scary and painful to us and we desperately want to do what is right in your eyes. We want to obey You in ALL of our ways Lord, we want to do right and live at peace. Give us courage Lord to stand up strong in your power. Strengthen our faith to stand firm in you and heal our foolish ways. Thank you Father.
In Jesus name ❤️ Amen
Did you, like me, view discipline as an external force being done to us, rather than an internal learning which produces righteousness within ourselves? How do the context of these verses change when you look at them in this light?
For me, I am greatly encouraged. I can reconcile that Good Good Father so much better. I always struggled with how He could send His Son to such a horrible death, now I can finally understand why it was important for us to know that Jesus wasn’t sent… He went.
He went out of Love for us, to teach us his students, what we could not learn on our own. He made a choice that would redeem All who believe. So how do we as His Children, learn from the discipline we are experiencing?
For me, I will start looking at it from the vantage point of a student, using it to learn new ways to be better and to grow deeper in Love with Father, Son & Holy Spirit… I will look forward to the growth that will be produced in me as I do the work I need to do.
Let’s embrace Godly Discipline which is not defined by the Merriam- Webster Dictionary, and is not about enforcement or judgement and sentencing for our sins. Lets walk in the Intent of the word, which is to grow deeper in our relationship with Christ and become more Christlike in the process…
Blessings, Janet❤️. Journey4Jesus
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