January 31: Discipline
Genesis 49–50; Hebrews 12–13; Ecclesiastes 12:9–14
I was a stubborn child. When disciplined by my parents, I would sulk for hours afterward. I didn’t see discipline from my parents’ perspective—as something that would mold me into a mature, loving person.
Hebrews 12 has a lesson for people like me with a history of wallowing in self-pity when disciplined. Here, the writer of Hebrews tells us that God, a Father to us through the work of Jesus, disciplines us for our good. To emphasize this, the writer of Hebrews draws on the book of Proverbs, where the Father instructs His own Son. “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, or give up when you are corrected by him. For the Lord disciplines the one who he loves, and punishes every son whom he accepts” (Heb 12:6; compare Prov 3:11–12).
The author tells us that being disciplined is a sign of God’s love. It means He is working and active in our lives (Heb 12:8). Like a chastised child, we might not always recognize God’s discipline this way. When challenged by our circumstances, we might struggle against events that are meant to shape us for holiness and eternity. We might even avoid subjecting ourselves to them because we don’t see God as the author of the event.
Sometimes our parents’ form of discipline gives us a tainted view of its purpose. Imperfect, like us, they disciplined us “for a few days according to what seemed appropriate to them.” It may have been harmful and destructive. But God disciplines us “for our benefit, in order that we can have a share in his holiness” (Heb 12:10). Because
His intentions are perfect, we know that He has our ultimate good in mind. And we can approach discipline like a student, ready to learn how to better serve Him—and others—for His kingdom.
How do you respond to God’s discipline in your life? How can you change your attitude so that you view them as teachable moments and not a means to inflict harm?
REBECCA VAN NOORD
- Then Jacob called his sons, and said, Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you what shall come to you in the last days. Reuben mine eldest son, thou art my might, and the beginning of my strength, the excellency of dignity, and the excellency of power: Thou wast light as water: thou shalt not be excellent, because thou wentest up to thy father’s bed: then diddest thou defile my bed, thy dignity is gone. Simeon and Levi, brethren in evil, the instruments of cruelty are in their habitations. Into their secret let not my soul come: my glory be not thou joined with their assembly: for in their wrath they slew a man, and in their self-will they dug down a wall. Cursed be their wrath, for it was fierce, and their rage, for it was cruel: I will divide them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel. Thou Judah, thy brethren shall praise thee: thy hand shall be in the neck of thine enemies: thy father’s son shall bow down before unto thee. Judah as a Lion’s whelp shalt thou come up from teh spoil, my son. He shall lie down and couch a Lion, and as a Lioness: Who shall stir him up? The Sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a Lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come, and the people shall be gathered unto him. He shall bind his Ass foal unto the vine, and his ass’s colt unto the best vine. He shall wash his garment in wine, and his cloak in the blood of grapes. His eyes shall be red with wine, and his teeth white with milk. Zebulun shall dwell by the seaside, and he shall be an haven for ships: and his border shall be unto Sidon. Issachar shall be a strong ass, couching down between two burdens: And he shall see that rest is good, and that the land is pleasant, and he shall bow his shoulder to bear, and shall be subject unto tribute. Dan shall judge his people as one of the tribes of Israel. Dan shall be a serpent by the way, an adder bythe path, biting the horse heels, so that his rider shall falll backward. O Lord, I have waited for thy salvation. Gad, a host of men shall overcome hm, but he shall overcome at the last. Concerning Asher, his bread shall be fat, and he shall give pleasures for a king. Naphtali shall be a hind let go, giving goodly words. Joseph shall be a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by the well side: the small boughs shall turn upon the wall: And the archers grieved him, and shot against him, and hated him. But his bow abode strong, and the hands ofhis arms were strengthened, by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob, of whom was the feeder appointed by the stone of Israel. Even by the God of thy father, who shall help thee, and by the almighty, who shall bless thee with heavenly blessings from above, with blessings of the deep that lieth beneath, with blessings of the breasts, and of the womb. The blessings of thy father shall be stronger than the blessings of mine elders: unto the end of the hills of the world they shall be on the head of Joseph, and on the top of the head of him that was separated from his brethren. Benjamin shall raven as a wolf: in the morning he shall devour the prey, and at night he shall divide the spoil. All these are the twelve tribes of Israel, and thus their father spake unto them, and blessed them: every one of them blessed he with a several blessing. And he charged them and sai dunto them, I am ready to be gathered unto my people: bury me with my fathers in the cave, that is in the field of Ephron the Hittite, In the cave that is in the field of Machpelah, besides Mamre in the land of Canaan: which cave Abraham brought with the field of Ephron the Hittite for a possession to bury in. There they buried Abraham and Sarah his wife: there they buried Isaac and Rebekah his wife: and there I buried Leah. The purchase of the field and the cave that is therein, was bought of the children of Heth. Thus Jacob made an end of giving charge to his sosn, and plucked his feet into the bed, and gave up the ghost, and was gathered to his people. Then Joseph fell upon his father’s face and wept upon him, and kissed him. And Joseph commanded his servants the physicians to embalm his father, and the physicians embalmed Israel. So forty days were accommplished (for so long did the days of them that were embalmed last) and the Egyptians bewailed him seventy days. And when the days of his mourning were past, Joseph spake to the house of Pharaoh, saying, If I have now found favor in your eyes, speak, I pray you, in the ears, of Pharaoh, and say, My father made me swear saying, Lo, I die, bury me in my grave, which I have made mein the land of Canaan: now therefore let me go, I pray thee, and bury my father, adn I will come again. Then Pharaoh said, Go up and bury thy father, as he made three to swear. So Joseph went up to bury his father, and with him went all teh servants of Pharaoh, both the elders of his house, and all the elders of the land of Egypt, Likewise all the house of Joseph, and his brethren, and his father’s house: only their children, and their sheep, and their cattle left they in the land of Goshen. And there went up with him both chariots and chorsement: and they were an exceeding great company. And they came to Goren Atad, which is beyond Jordan, and there they made a great and exceeding sore lamentation: and he mourned for his father seven days. And when the Canaanites the inhabitants ofthe land saw the mourning in Goren Atad, they said, This is a great mourning unto the Egyptians: wherefore the name thereof was called Abel Mizraim, which is beyond Jordan. So his sons did unto him, according as he had commanded them: for his sons carried him into the land of Canaan, and buried him in the cave of the field of Machpelah, which cave Abraham bought with the field, to be a place to bury in, of Ephron the Hittite beside Mamre. Then Joseph returned unto Egypt, he and his brethren, and all that went up wiht him to bury his father, after that he had buried his father. And when Joseph’s brethren saw that their father was dead, they said, It may be that Joseph will hate us, and will pay us again all the evil which we did unto him. Therefore they sent unto Joseph, Forgive now, I pray thee, the trespass of thy brethren, and their sin: for they rewarded thee evil. And now, we pray thee, forgive the trespass of the servants of thy father’s God. And Joseph wept, when they spake unto him. Also his brethren came unto him, and fell down before his face, and said, Behold, we be thy servants. To whom Joseph said, Fear not: for am not I under God? When ye thought evil against me, God disposed it to good, that he might bring it to pass, as it is this day, and save much people alive. Fear not now threfore, I willl nourish you, and your children: and he comforted them, and spake kindly unto them. So Joseph dwelt in Egypt, he, and his father’s house: and Joseph lived an hundred and ten years. And Joseph saw Ephraim’s children, even unto the third generation: also the sons of Machir the son of Manasseh were brought upon Joseph’s knees. And Joseph took an oath of the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you, and ye shall carry my bones hence. So Joseph died, when he was an hundred and ten years old: and they embalmed him, and put him in a chest in Egypt.. Genesis 49–50
- . Hebrews 12–13
- . Ecclesiastes 12:9–14