The Beauty of the Lord’s Discipline
My child, don’t reject the Lord’s discipline and don’t be upset when he corrects you. For the Lord corrects those he loves, just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights (Proverbs 3:11–12).
Several years ago, God allowed me to experience the full-on consequences of a poor financial decision made under pressure. What had led to my foible was a momentary lapse of trust, and the whole experience led me to reconsider just how much I really believed the Lord to meet all my needs. As I scrambled for a solution to the problem, the Lord reminded me, through that still small voice, that there is something much more important to learn through a failure than simply the relief of working my way out of a tight spot. It is the beauty of experiencing His discipline. The Bible says, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” (Proverbs 1:7), and I knew that I did not want to miss God’s lesson.
Some people think that God limits His attention only to the large, glaring sins we commit, or the major, potentially life-altering, decisions we face. However, this is a faulty view of God’s very personal concern for His children. Others resist the very idea that discipline would, or could, come from God because as a Spirit He is unseen in this physical world. As Christians, this kind of reasoning limits our usefulness in a Kingdom where we are called to increasingly and progressively walk by faith and not by sight.
Let’s examine five aspects of the beauty of the Lord’s discipline:
- The Lord’s discipline is perfect. When one thinks of perfection, what comes to mind is something that is complete or entire, not lacking anything and without fault. The Bible tells us the Lord is perfect in all His ways, and His discipline is no different. “God’s way is perfect. All the LORD’s promises prove true. He is a shield for all who look to him for protection” (Psalm 18:30). In the original Hebrew, the idea that His promises “prove true” alludes to the purity of a refined precious metal, such as gold. Just as impurities are removed in the smelting process, leaving behind a pure substance of high value, there are no hidden agendas in the Lord’s discipline. A close examination will reveal only a pure, unending love and intention for us.
- The Lord’s discipline is precise. The Surgeon of our soul carefully explores and then excises the malignancies out of our life. Things like arrogance, selfishness, and deceitfulness — traits to which we would otherwise stubbornly cling — are cut away without hesitation, for if we are to step closer to Him, they cannot, must not remain. And His work continues, progressively, until He has removed the last vestige of each holdover from the old life. The Psalmist provides insight into this procedure when he says, “When you discipline us for our sins, you consume like a moth what is precious to us. Each of us is but a breath” (Psalm 39:11). The beauty in this process is that with each successive trip to the operating table we lose things that have been precious to us, but each time God closes the wound He leaves behind something of what is precious to Him — more faith, hope, love, humility, brokenness, servitude.
- The Lord’s discipline is protective. When the Lord chastens us, it is for our good. When He corrects us, it is for our growth. And when He admonishes us, we can trust that His concern is for the very health of our soul. Paul tells the Corinthians it would be better if they self-corrected their lack of consideration and selfish motives when coming together for the Lord’s Supper. But he goes on to reinforce the protective aspect of the Lord’s discipline: “Yet when we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned along with the world” (1 Corinthians 11:32, emphasis added).
- The Lord’s discipline is constructive. The Lord desires that each of us would be built up in Him, and the blueprint for this is the “walk” upon which we set out at our conversion. “Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving” (Colossians 2:6-7). With Christ as our foundation, we go on, step-by-step, toward completion. Every challenge, obstacle, failure, and victory add strength to the structure of our trust in Him. And Christ makes his comfortable living space in our hearts, and we experience a fullness of life and a power for living that results in our being an overcomer (see Ephesians 3:14-21).
- The Lord’s discipline is fruitful. The effectiveness of any disciplinary process is realized in what it produces. “No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward, there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way” (Hebrews 12:11).
Perfect, precise, protective, constructive, and fruitful — the Lord’s discipline is indeed a beautiful thing. He disciplines us because He loves us and because we have found favor in His sight. Rather than shy away from His discipline, may we learn to anticipate and value it as a necessary preparation for eternal life.