by Mike Ratliff
My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the LORD reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights. (Proverbs 3:11-12 ESV)
A huge part of the Lord’s discipline is designed to eradicate within His people a love for this world. How can it be pleasing to God for His people to love the system that despised His Son and killed Him? Yes believers must live the lives God has given them here amidst people who are not His. God uses this to discipline and reprove His people. Unlike the message of many false teachers in our day, sickness, conflict, and trouble are not outward signs of God’s displeasure with a believer, but are, in fact, His work of sanctifying those in whom He delights.
Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” (Hebrews 12:3-6 ESV)
The “Him” in v3 in this passage is Christ. Like the Lord Jesus, genuine believers have experienced the hostility of sinners. Some experience this in forms of violence, but more often it is exclusion or discrimination. However, the writer of Hebrews is telling us that Christ endured and suffered so that believers may not grow weary or fainthearted. How are believers to “not grow weary or fainthearted” when they endure the hostility of the world?
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV)
The Christian walk is a day-by-day affair. We must walk through each day as part of a race, which God has set before us, by looking unto Jesus, the author and founder and perfecter of our faith. We look to Christ as our holy and godly example of how to endure the temporal as God uses its pressure and trouble to perfect our faith and burn away all in us that looks to the flesh or the temporal for fulfillment. The believer is called to seek to be fulfilled in Christ alone. None of us can do this in our own abilities and no one can even approach this in their own strength or abilities for that would be self-righteousness, which is as filthy rags in God’s sight. No, we can do this only in our weakness and humility by and through the grace of God as we abide in Christ, become living sacrifices, and are continually being spirit-filled by submitting to others. Remember, Christ’s work is finished. It is complete and perfect. He has done all that is necessary to save His people. However, each believer must be sanctified in order that they become as perfected and completed as they can be this life. This requires discipline and God uses the fires of sanctification to bring it about.
It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:7-11 ESV)
The professing Christian who lacks this disciplining by God is illegitimate. They are not genuine believers. God’s discipline seems quite painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Therefore, we must not lost heart in our weariness of the trouble seemingly never ending, but must run this race set before us with our eyes firmly fixed on our Lord Jesus Christ. We follow His example and we will come to the end prepared for eternity.
Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears. (Hebrews 12:12-17 ESV)
Do you see it my brethren? Perhaps you are walking in disappointment because you did not receive some honor you thought you deserved. Or perhaps you did not get that promotion at work that you thought you were qualified for. Or you did not receive the recognition for your work or talents that would elevate you in the eyes of the world. In any case, believers must not allow these things denied to them by the grace of God to bring them to dismay or weariness or despair. No, these are worldly things that could very easily cause us to be in love with the temporal rather than in running the race set before us, which must be done in self-denial. Our fulfillment must be in Christ alone or what we are pursuing is only another form of idolatry. Therefore, my brethren, do not grow weary running this race set before us by God Himself. In this we are being prepared for eternity.
Soli Deo Gloria!
Addendum: I wrote another article with this same title a few years ago. Here is the link to it. I think it is very relevant to this teaching and discussion.