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Love & Discipline

Hebrews 12:4-13

One of the most powerful verses in the Bible is listed in Hebrews chapter 12.


Hebrews 12 on Discipline

4 You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin;
5 and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons, "MY SON, DO NOT REGARD LIGHTLY THE DISCIPLINE OF THE LORD, NOR FAINT WHEN YOU ARE REPROVED BY HIM;
7 It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline?
8 But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.
9 Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live?
10 For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, that we may share His holiness.
11 All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.
12 Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble,
13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed.
(Hebrews 12:4-13).

We have a very difficult time connecting love and discipline. We have a more difficult time with the way it is asserted that every son must be scourged. There are lots of lessons to be learned here as parents and pastors but also for each individual Christian. Let's cover several of these points.

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  • "My son" (Hebrews 12:5)
    God deals with His own children different than those who are not His children. A parent only has jurisdiction over his own children. This is true partly because of his intimate concern and understanding of that child. Genuine Christians are His sons. Each of them are brought through a time of discipline.

  • "Those whom the Lord loves." (Hebrews 12:6)
    The Lord loves His children in a different way than He loves those who do not know Him. From this teaching we gather there are two kinds of love: a general love in which His general goodness is displayed and a specific love for His children. God's actions are different toward His children. If they are unconscious of the way God deals with them, then they will not understand God's actions with them.

  • "He disciplines." (Hebrews 12:6)
    We might wonder why it is the Christian He disciplines rather than the non-Christian. "Is not the Christian better?" The question is wrongly asked. We are better because we are disciplined but still have a long way to go! Discipline is the means that we are better able to do His will. We are deceived to think that His children do not need discipline. Have we found a child among us who needs not discipline? Is your child naturally bent to do good? Doing good is something that we are trained to do.

  • "He scourges." (Hebrews 12:6)
    The Lord gets rough with His discipline. He does not just let us sit idly in a corner. Scourging has the idea of an actual beating with some object. There is no question that no one likes getting a scourging, but it is this actual fact that makes it useful in keeping us from doing foolish things again. If we had not done it in the first place, we would not have received a scourging. In actual fact, a quick and patient spanking can change a child's attitude from haughty to humble in just moments. We will not find this true of 'non-aggressive' means. The purpose is to keep the child from greater foolishness in the future.

  • "Every son whom He receives." (Hebrews 12:6)
    We like to think that not every Christian faces these reproving scourgings. We think they are only necessary once in a great while. Only the most naughty need the scourging. Surely not the refined and learned ones. However, we are totally wrong. If we are God's child, He would scourge us. God in the end is in charge of each of His children's discipline. I have numerous times asked God to discipline His child because I couldn't appropriately deal with a certain offending brother.

Here are a few summary statements:

  • Each Christian is enlisted in God's training program. Non-Christians are excluded.

  • God uses discipline and scourging as part of His training process.

  • Love is God's reason for disciplining each of His children.

  • Scourgings are purposeful and not mean or violent.
          ... "That we may share His holiness."

  • A Christian on his own will not do His best. He needs training.

  • The Lord pays close attention to our needs and knows best how to handle us.

The Lord is asking us not to lose sight of God's purpose through our times of discipline. It will hurt. We will be tempted to get bitter against God. We will be given plenty of tinder to start a fire of doubt that will last our lifetime. But we are admonished,


God has his purpose in chastising us. We will be tempted to respond in two wrong ways:

1) Regard lightly.
In other words, we do not profit from the discipline. We don't get the point of it. This means that we will need to go through more rigorous discipline in the future.

2) Faint.
The other response is to give up. We are overwhelmed by God's hand against us. This is another way to avoid the lesson of discipline. Instead of getting more serious about improving a certain area of our life, we just give up. Often we disguise this with a veil of criticism against God.

Love will always bring us into numerous encounters with God who is training us. We should not be surprised. Instead, we should be more expectant of what God is bringing. Love is tough because the stakes are high. Give up and the child has no respect for your own ways and habits. Give up and the child will barely tolerate you. But discipline him, and you will find great training from Him. Next >

More on the discipline of the parent from the parenting series.

Other great resources on love!

Developing love in Your Marriage

Scriptures typically quoted from the New American Standard Bible unless noted: (C) Copyright The Lockman Foundation 1988

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