“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. 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” (Hebrews 12:10, 11 NIV).
Notice the above scripture points out that God disciplines us for our good. I know…the thought of the word “discipline” makes many of us cringe. Partly, because it has been so abused and misused in Christian circles (even well-meaning individuals simply lack the spiritual maturity to know how to use it appropriately). Many have used this scripture as a license to judge, criticize, point fingers, and speak harshly about and to one another. I like what I heard one pastor say, “When you point one finger, notice that you have three pointing right back at you.”
The scripture says GOD disciplines. Why then are we so overly consumed with chastising one another? Although it is wise to receive good counsel (Proverbs 15:22, Proverbs 1:5, Proverbs 12:15), one must discern and consider the source. Discipline from man must come from a genuine place of love (not from a place of offense, insecurity, the need to control, jealousy, self-righteousness, a critical spirit, etc). None of the aforementioned characteristics are from God. It is crucial that we discern between human fragility in their mistakes to discipline and the perfect knowledge of our heavenly Father, who seeks our profit, and cannot err in how He disciplines. Use discretion when seeking wise counsel.
As painful as it may be at times, God’s discipline always results in a better you. It is the pinnacle of why He desires to discipline us. It is also important to recognize that God’s correction is not condemnation; it is to promote holiness.
Although we see many instances in the bible where God used what we would consider “harsh measures” to discipline His people, it was done so due to sin and rebellion (not due to lack of perfectionism). Nonetheless, God is our Creator and He is Sovereign over all. How and when God chooses to discipline His people is God’s business and we should never try to take God’s place by making it ours.
For those who have felt the sting of being “disciplined” in a godless manner, know that that too can be used for your good. Maybe the experience will grow your heart into a heart of compassion for those who genuinely need it. Maybe it is simply a lesson on how not to treat others.
Man may sometimes chasten us, to gratify their fleshly passions. But God, the Creator of our souls never willingly grieves nor afflicts his children. It is always for our profit. Let us then use discernment when it comes to the afflictions brought on us by the malice of men, and that brought to us by our wise and gracious Father who does so out of genuine love and for our eternal good.