The Discipline of the Lord
“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
How do we know that we truly belong to the Lord? Scripture gives us many signs to look for in our lives that indicate that our faith is real and that we are children of God. One of these evidences is that we confess faith in Christ alone for salvation (Rom. 10:9). But as many profess faith falsely, there are other things to look for. In 1 John 5:1–4, we read that those who have been born of God will believe that Jesus is the Son of God, specifically that He truly came in the flesh; will seek to keep the Lord’s commandments; and will love the Father and other believers. Galatians 3:1–14 says that the true Christian does not rely on his obedience to God for his justification but is justified by faith alone in Christ alone, and consequently receives the gift of the Holy Spirit. The presence of the Spirit and, therefore, saving faith is confirmed by evidences of the fruit of the Spirit in one’s life (5:22–23). There is also the internal testimony of the Holy Spirit, who bears witness with our spirits that we are children of God (Rom. 8:12–17).
Today’s passage gives us something else to look for as evidence that we are true children of God—the discipline of the Lord. Proverbs 3:11–12 indicates that believers should expect to be reproved by our Creator, to feel the rod of His discipline. Good parents do not let their sons and daughters do whatever they want; rather, they establish rules for their children to teach them how to live in society and to find success in the world. When these rules are broken, good parents impose disciplinary consequences. Spanking, taking away privileges, putting the child in the corner for a “time-out,” and so on may be used in discipline, but the desired result is the same for all of them—to make sure that the young person’s behavior is corrected so that the child may grow into a responsible adult. In a similar way, God the Father imposes discipline upon us when we sin. This can include anything from our awareness of our sin and guilt to letting us suer the earthly consequences for our sin. No matter the discipline imposed, the Lord also has as His goal our maturity. He is working through every possible means to present us mature in Christ (Col. 1:28).
God’s fatherly discipline is for all of His saints. If even the great King David could be assured of discipline for his sin (2 Sam. 7:14), we may certainly expect not to escape the Lord’s chastening hand when we fall. But as with good earthly parents, this discipline is for our eventual benefit, so we should seek to grow when we are being disciplined by God.
God does not delight in seeing His children suffer; rather, He imposes discipline for the greater good of our maturity in Christ. The discipline that we feel for our sin is not a sign that God hates us or is “out to get us.” Instead, it is proof positive that He loves us and wants us to grow strong in Him. Do you find yourself under the discipline of the Lord this day? Pray that you would learn the lesson you need to learn from your suffering.
Passages for Further Study