Summary: No matter the context, God’s discipline shows his Father’s heart for us.
DOMINANT THOUGHT: No matter the context, God’s discipline shows his Father’s heart for us.
- Head: For the people to understand that God cares for us as a father cares for his children.
- Heart: For the people to have confidence and hope in God’s promises through tough times.
- Hands: For the people to see what God is teaching them through their pain.
Discipline. The word comes with somewhat negative connotations. Images that come to mind may be dad’s belt, or being grounded, or suffering under the loving care of a drill sergeant while in basic training. When I hear the word, I think about Mr. Angle. Mr. Angle was my high school science teacher—he was a tough-as-nails Texan who used to coach football down in the Lone Star State. He had a wooden paddle lovingly crafted from some 1x6 black walnut. It had holes drilled in it that made it whistle through the air while it sped on its way to its intended target. He used to have a smaller, plainer model, but he broke it one day while administering some discipline.
No matter what images come to mind when we think of discipline, they all share one common theme: discomfort.
Of course, discipline is not what it used to be. Comedienne Renee Hicks said, “[My mother] had something like a time-out, it was called a knock-out.” The great philosopher and social critic “Weird Al” Yankovic humorously takes note of the softening of discipline today in his song “When I Was Your Age:”
What’s the matter now, sonny, you say you don’t believe this junk?
You think my story’s wearin’ kinda thin?
I tell you one thing, I never was such a disrespectful punk.
Back in my time, we had a thing called discipline!
Dad would whoop us every night till a quarter after twelve,
Then he’d get too tired and he’d make us whoop ourselves.
That reminds me of two men who were out on the golf course. One turned to the other and said, “You know, when I was a kid, my parents sent me to my room without supper if I misbehaved. But my son has his own color TV, telephone, gaming system, computer, and stereo in his room!” His buddy nodded in understanding and asked. “So how do you deal with him?” The other man smiled. “I send him to my room!”
This Fathers Day I want to challenge all of us to take another look at this thing called discipline. I want us to appreciate discipline, to rejoice that our heavenly Father cares enough about us as his children to administer discipline to us. That’s right, I said I want us to rejoice that God counts us worthy of receiving his loving discipline.
Our text this morning comes from Hebrews 12, starting in verse 4. We’ve been bouncing around the book of Hebrews for the past four weeks. We’ve learned that God has spoken to us though a better medium: his Son Jesus Christ. We’ve learned that through this superior form of communication we have received a better warning, that through the incarnation of Jesus God has a better understanding of our brokenness. Today we will learn that through Jesus Christ we have been adopted as the sons and daughters of God, and as our Father, he offers us a better discipline. Hear the Word of God, starting in Hebrews 12, verse 4:
In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5 And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: "My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, 6 because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son."
7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? 8 If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. 9 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 our spirits and live! 10 Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. 11 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.
12 Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. 13 "Make level paths for your feet," so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.
14 Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. 15 See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. 16 See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son. 17 Afterward, as you know, when he wanted to inherit this blessing, he was rejected. He could bring about no change of mind, though he sought the blessing with tears.