Hebrews 12:5-13 – Divine Discipline

red heart with an arrow through it against black background

Read Hebrews 12:5-13

I was spanked as a child, were you? It was “for my own good,” I was told. Take a step back in time and think about how your parents disciplined you while growing up. I apologize if you were the “perfect” child who never riled anger or correction from your parents. I was not. Not even close! I spent many nights “grounded.”

When we become parents ourselves, our perspective on the whole idea of discipline abruptly changes. If not a parent, think of a time when you were put in charge of a room full of children and felt totally out of your element. (That’s what being a parent can feel like sometimes!)

Can you tell I wasn’t a very good disciplinarian? It wasn’t fun, but correcting our children’s poor behavior choices should be a priority. God certainly isn’t afraid to discipline us, his children, as needed. Some might even suggest he disciplines us more than we would like!

We can only do our best in the discipline department. But when it comes to being the receiver of such discipline, these verses are helpful to hear. “But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness.” Now, that’s a promise and a cure!

It’s no fun to be disciplined, it can be painful. But being cured of our affliction of sin by sharing in the holiness of God’s majesty is quite the promise! When you can look back at a situation and see how you’ve grown or the depth of knowledge learned, it’s clear the correction was needed. God knew best.

Think about how you have been disciplined by God in your life.  What did you learn from it? You are most certainly stronger now. If you’re still in the middle of a season of discipline, rest in the assurance that God only disciplines those he loves! Proverbs 3:12 says, “For the Lord corrects those he loves, just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights.”

God delights in you! Let that sit with you for a moment.

If we think of discipline as the way we sharpen ourselves to prepare for something greater, it might be easier to endure. In my ministry, I’ve shared this powerful story before. It’s about the woman who goes to the Silversmith about the process of refining silver. Just as a refiner’s fire, God will draw out our dross – our broken, sinful ways – so that we will stand pure and righteous before him. What a beautiful image to cling to!

burning heart

The Refiner’s Fire

As she watched the silversmith, he held a piece of silver over the fire and let it heat up. He explained that in refining silver, one needed to hold the silver in the middle of the fire where the flames were hottest as to burn away all the impurities. The woman thought about God holding us in such a hot spot; then she thought again about the verse that says: ‘He sits as a refiner and purifier of silver.’ (Malachi 3:3) She asked the silversmith if it was true that he had to sit there in front of the fire the whole time the silver was being refined. The man answered that yes, he not only had to sit there holding the silver, but he had to keep his eyes on the silver the entire time it was in the fire. If the silver was left a moment too long in the flames, it would be destroyed. The woman was silent for a moment. Then she asked the silversmith, ‘How do you know when the silver is fully refined?’ He smiled at her and answered, ‘Oh, that’s easy — when I see my image in it.’

God wants us to be holy so we can be more like Jesus. Remember that the process of divine discipline may not always be pleasant, but like this little parable, we can find peace knowing that God never takes his eyes off of us. He is holding on tight. The entire disciplinary process is being overseen by our creator. How perfect is that?

colorful animation of prayer hands and hearts and flowers

Let’s pray. Lord, I’ve endured painful corrections, but I thank you that you are watching out for me. I know that I as I learn the lessons of life you are right there beside me, holding me tight. Help me follow you and the direction you are leading. I look forward to seeing my life transformed because of you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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