By Paul Tautges
If you are a regular reader of this blog then you know that much of my writing is very personal, often times the passing on of lessons the Lord is teaching me that I have recorded in my devotion-time journal. Today’s post is no different.
At the recommendation of a loving brother in Christ I’ve been deliberately thinking on God’s faith-training program explained in Hebrews 12, which is renewing my mind specifically in regard to our responses and reactions.
The “discipline” of the Lord that the writer refers to is not merely, narrowly corrective. It is that. Don’t misunderstand. God loves us the way we are, but loves us way too much to allow us to remain as we are. Instead, He lovingly chastens in order to demonstrate His love for us and His undying commitment to make us like Christ (Heb 12:6-8, 11). I have written on that subject in several other places within this blog as well as in several books. But, as any genuine Christian knows, just because any of us have written on certain areas of the Christian life never implies, or means, that we have personally mastered them. The apostle Paul certainly knew this: “Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect [completely mature], but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus” (Phil 3:12).
Concerning “discipline,” however, the focus of my attention lately has been broader. I am learning to think of God’s discipline as His training program for our discipleship (‘disciple’ and ‘discipline’ are, of course, related in word origin). As an athlete must discipline himself in order to fulfill his calling (1 Tim 4:7-8), he does so under the supervision and guidance of his trainer. How much more is this so for us as children of God!
God is the trainer who oversees our disciplined training program. More than that, He is the sovereign Lord who providentially orchestrates the events and details of our lives in order to get to the heart issues that lie behind and beneath our life-reactions and responses. A basic truth I am learning is that we are not responsible for designing the faith-training program—only for how we respond to it. But some of our responses are counter-productive to God’s training for our growth in godliness.
Hebrews 12:3-17 reveals four counter-productive responses to God’s discipline from which we must repent. Today, we will consider the first two. As we work through this text, let’s employ the truth of the Word for self-counseling in order that we may more effectively, and more lovingly, counsel one another. As we do so, we cooperate with the Holy Spirit whose non-stop purpose is to transform me into the image of Jesus as I behold Him (2 Cor 3:18).
Growing Weary – We “grow weary and lose heart” during God’s training program when we fail to “consider Him who has endured” so much “hostility by sinners against Himself” (Heb 12:3). A lack of Christ-centered focus hinders our ability to respond to God’s discipline in a godly manner. If we have grown weary of God’s training program we have sinned and, therefore, must repent.
Allowing Discouragement to Grow to a Crippling Degree – We succumb to the crippling power of discouragement when our reactions and responses to God’s training are not godly, which hinders the progress of our training to be like Christ. Instead, God’s Word exhorts us not to “faint when we are reproved by Him.” If we have allowed discouragement to grow to the point of crippling our obedience then we have sinned, and, therefore, must repent.
When these two sinful responses remain for a long period of time they lead to two even more serious responses. That’s what we will think about tomorrow. In the meantime, dwell on verses 15-16 and see if you can discern two more counter-productive responses to God’s discipline.
Dr. Paul Tautges serves as pastor of Immanuel Bible Church in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, and has authored the books Counsel One Another, Comfort Those Who Grieve and The Discipline of Mercy. Dr. Tautges also blogs at Counseling One Another and Biblical Counseling Coalition.