ADVENT, DAY TEN
We often mistakenly think of discipline as something negative. Yet I love how Wikipedia describes discipline:
“The suppression of base desires, and is usually understood to be synonymous with self-control restraint and control. Discipline is when one uses reason to determine the best course of action regardless of one’s desires, which may be the opposite of excited. Virtuous behavior can be described as when one’s values are aligned with one’s aims: to do what one knows is best and to do it gladly.“
Discipline doesn’t come naturally. We must learn it.
Discipline is something we learn to do for ourselves to have a better life. We get up in the morning and go to work. We go to work so we can eat and have a nice home. We control what we eat so that we can maintain our health. We maintain our homes so they don’t deteriorate.
A child is kept safe through boundaries an adult lovingly imposes as a series of rewards and consequences. Employees are encouraged to improve work productivity as an employer gives rewards and incentives for making the company more profitable. The government has a system of rewards and consequences in the form of laws, to encourage peace and safety and discourage lawbreaking.
Because our motives are never purely selfless, no matter how hard we try, training in discipline is never perfectly carried out. Whether for ourselves, our children, our employees, or our citizens. Yet God’s training in and through discipline is always wrapped in his desire for our very best, fueled by his lavish unrelenting love for us! The one an imperfect shadow of the other.
Hebrews 12:5,10-11 shares God’s heart:
5 And have you forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you as his children? He said, “My child, don’t make light of the Lord’s discipline,and don’t give up when he corrects you…..
I used to think God was up there, just waiting for me to mess up so he could crack his whip and get me in shape. Now I realize his love is too lavish for that.
God’s heart could never allow anything his greatest love didn’t think necessary for my very best good.
When I remember his heart of uncompromising, incomprehensible, enduring, faithful love, I realize his discipline can never be to harm me, but to protect me from a greater harm I cannot yet see.
I John 4:16-19 says it extremely well:
16 We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. (We can trust his love because he gave his Son to take our punishment and pay for our crimes against him when we went our own way. – my paraphrase from earlier in the passage.)
God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. 17 And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.
18 Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love. 19 We love each other because he loved us first.”
The key to understanding Jesus’ gift of discipline, is in seeing God’s heart. The only way we can ever see God’s heart is to stay close to his side, and bask in his love.
Jesus, when it comes to your discipline, I often misunderstand your heart. Help me to see you as you are, and not through my own spin. Help me to stay close by you, growing in relationship with you, so that I can know all you allow in my life comes from your greatest love for me. In Jesus’ name, amen.
With love and prayers,