Maturing in Faith
Through Discipline

Key Verse: “Endure trials for the sake of discipline.”
—Hebrews 12:7, New Revised Standard Version

Selected Scripture:
Hebrews 12:1-13

AFTER SEEING A LIST OF FAITHFUL PEOPLE who lived before the time of our Lord’s first advent in Hebrews 11, the Apostle Paul presents a picture of an arena such as was used in his day for various games. The onlookers—“a cloud of witnesses”—are portrayed as being comprised of these ancient faithful people of God. We are performers in these games running a race, and being encouraged to put forth our best efforts. The race course is the pathway of the Christian walk in the footsteps of Jesus. We, therefore, are to fix our eyes on Jesus and note his endurance and faithfulness in the way of sacrifice—in particular how he endured the hostility of sinful men lest we become weary and lose heart.—Heb. 12:1-3

As the Christian way becomes harder to traverse, we are reminded that in our struggle against sin we haven’t had to resist to the point of shedding our blood. We especially are to remember, and not forget, Paul’s exhortation that addresses us as children. He said, “My child, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, or lose heart when you are punished by him; for the Lord disciplines those whom he loves, and chastises every child whom he accepts.” (vss. 5,6, NRSV) As our Key Verse says, ‘Endure trials for the sake of discipline.’

The need for discipline should be recognized by all, whether our experience has been merely that of a child in a natural family, or both that of the child and also of a parent who had to discipline a child. The Apostle Paul uses our natural family experiences to remind us that we are in the family of God and need discipline. He says, “God is treating you as children; for what child is there whom a parent does not discipline: If you do not have that discipline in which all children share, then you are illegitimate and not his children. Moreover, we had human parents to discipline us, and we respected them. Should we not be even more willing to be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share his holiness.”—vss. 7-10, NRSV

It is true that the time of discipline is not pleasant. Trials and persecutions, pain and affliction, are not pleasant experiences, but, as the apostle reminds us, “Discipline always seems painful rather than pleasant at the time, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” (vs. 11, NRSV) Hence, we are admonished to put forth every effort to learn from our experiences. We are especially told to “follow peace with all men,” and to seek that “holiness” which, if we fail to develop, we shall not “see the Lord.” (vss. 12-14) Furthermore, we are to be on the alert not to let a bitter spirit develop in us whereby “many [can] be defiled.” (vs. 15) If we succeed we will mature in faith through discipline, and be a son in whom God is well pleased.

As we keep looking to Jesus, our elder brother, and note how he, as a Son, learned “obedience by the things which he suffered” (Heb. 5:8), we should strive to do likewise and receive the same approval of the Father.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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