My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when He rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those He loves and He punishes everyone He accepts as a son. Heb. 12: 5-6
Back in my pre-salvation days when I wasn’t very discerning in my TV viewing, I was a fan of the sitcom Friends. In one episode, Chandler’s new boss, a manly-man type, liked to smack his male employees on the behind when they did a good job, à la football coach. According to Chandler, a whiny cubicle worker kind of guy, his boss hit too hard and it hurt, so he asked him to stop.
However, it wasn’t long before Chandler realized he was missing out on the attention and recognition the other guys were getting from the boss. So, in typical 30-minutes-from-problem-to-solution sitcom fashion, he asked his boss to include him once again in the daily “whack-a-worker” ritual and they all lived bruised but happily ever after in cubicle land.
I guess you could say that Chandler didn’t understand the significance of his boss’s smacks – as uncomfortable as they were, they were a sign of his approval and affirmation.
While that’s a pretty loose analogy for this post, hopefully you get my point. The “smacks” being described in the verses above are about God disciplining us and not about male bonding rituals; but, just as with Chandler’s boss, those acts of punishment have a greater significance that is easy to miss when it seems God is being a little too hard.
I can’t think of anyone who enjoys being disciplined. I certainly don’t – I never did. I was a pretty good kid and never got many spankings when I was young, but I got my share of being sat down and talked to. To tell you the truth, though, I would have preferred a whipping to the look of disappointment on my dad’s face or the tears in my mother’s eyes when we had those discussions about how I had let them down. At the time, I didn’t appreciate the fact that we wouldn’t have been having that conversation if they hadn’t loved me so much and wanted so much more for me than I was bound to end up with unless I learned to meet their expectations.
I imagine that, if I could see God’s face when He has to discipline me, there would be disappointment on it as well – especially when I willfully decide to go my own way, in effect thumbing my nose at Him and his gracious gift of salvation at the expense of the precious, pure, and perfect blood of Jesus. Unlike with my parents, though, I now understand that God’s discipline is due to His love for me. It also reminds me that, while I’ll never be able to live up to the example set by His only begotten son, as His adopted son He certainly wants me to. Begotten or adopted, His expectations are the same.
Besides, as the latter half of I John 5:3 says, “…His commands are not burdensome.” It may take every bit of resolve in me and every ounce of faith I can muster to trust that God will provide the resources for me to do what He expects me to do, but what He asks won’t be unreasonable and will certainly be within my ability.
And the upside? In addition to affirming His love for me, any discipline that’s meted out just reminds me that I’m still a member of His family.
And while God’s punishment can hurt a lot more than a whack on the behind, it serves as a sign of His love and His wanting so much more for me than I’m bound to end up with unless I learn to meet His expectations…
“Heavenly Father, thank you for the love and acceptance you show me everyday, whether by providing comfort and blessings or by pulling me up short when I don’t meet your expectations – which is actually another type of blessing in itself, albeit a blessing that is hard won. Please continue to give me the ability to see your discipline for what it is: the act of an all-loving Father for His adopted son.”
Totally worth any bruising…