And you have forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons: “My son, do not take lightly the discipline of the Lord, and do not lose heart when He rebukes you. For the LORD disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child.” Hebrews 12:6
My son has a new female puppy called Cleo. At four months old, Cleo is a female pit bull terrier filled with energy. When I am walking Cleo, she constantly tries to step in front of me as she pulls her leach in an attempt to go where she wants and do what she wants. I shorten Cleo’s leach as much as possible because she lacks the discipline to walk straight. Cleo gets frustrated with me and wonders why I don’t let her run around freely. But if I do as Cleo wishes, she will never learn how to walk properly; and because she is a pit bull terrier, that may lead to a lot of problems for her owner and other dogs.
While walking Cleo this morning, I thought about how I am always pulling myself away from God’s loving arms. You see, I am very much like Cleo. More often than not, I want to do what I want to do and go where I want to go. God has had to keep me on a short leash so I would not hurt myself and others. He does not get upset with me when I wander off. Because of His love, He graciously pulls me back, so I don’t get lost.
In today’s text, the writer exhorts believers not to lose heart when God rebukes them. The rebuke of the Lord can be manifested in a variety of ways. It is part of the process of keeping us in line with God’s will and divine purpose. God's rebuke is part of His pruning process. The ultimate goal of the Lord’s discipline is for us to become more spiritually fruitful.
One thing to keep in mind is that God only disciplines or prunes those He loves. We should not confuse the Lord’s discipline with His wrath. The Lord’s wrath is reserved for those who reject His sovereignty and conduct themselves as His enemies. But His discipline is for those He loves and wants to be with Him in Heaven forevermore.
Indeed, it is because of the Lord's love, that He consistently disciplines us and rebukes us when we go astray. It is through His divine discipline the Lord orders our steps. His punishment is not malicious. Rather, it is designed to redeem us from our sinfulness so we can stay under the shadow of the almighty.
It would be foolish of me to think that a four-month-old puppy should be as self-controlled as an adult dog. Ultimately, Cleo will be properly trained to walk on and off-leash in a controlled manner. But for now, it is my responsibility to patiently train her. In the same way, the Holy Spirit is patiently training us to walk according to God’s will because He is our trainer, enabler, and counselor.
Cleo depends on her owner to feed, protect, shelter, and provide for her every need. She is extremely intelligent with the speed of a greyhound dog. My challenge will be to help her harness that speed and utilize her intelligence constructively so she could have a most productive life.
Because God is our provider, protector, and redeemer we can find comfort in His discipline. He is our shelter and the keeper of our souls. Thus, we should not lose heart when He rebukes us. Ultimately, we know that everything God does for us will work for our good- including His rebuke. Therefore, let us pursue obedience and remain steadfast in our service to His kingdom.
Questions for Personal Reflection
How do you feel when the Lord is disciplining you?
Why is God’s rebuke necessary for spiritual growth?
Prayer- Blessed Savior, I thank you for disciplining me when I go astray. Please help me to remain obedient to your will when I do not get my way. May I remain in your grace in your rebuke! Remind me of your love for me when I am being pruned by your Holy Spirit.