“And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? ‘My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives'” (Hebrews 12:5-6 ESV).
As the author of Hebrews continues his exposition of Proverbs 3:11-12, we should note an important point of emphasis within this passage. Unlike a servant who lacks the familial bond that unites the other members of a household, this portion of Scripture employs the word “son” to identify those who are subject to the Lord’s discipline.
Jesus identified those members of God’s family in the Gospel of Luke…
“And it was told Him by some, who said, ‘Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, desiring to see You.’ But He answered and said to them, ‘My mother and My brothers are these who hear the word of God and do it'” (Luke 8:20-21).
This brings us to something that warrants careful consideration: a person who can engage in sinful behaviors without any apparent repercussion is someone who should be greatly concerned. For instance, a father does not typically discipline a child who belongs to someone else. Therefore, anyone who can engage in Biblically inappropriate behaviors without apparent consequence might question his or her status as a legitimate son or daughter of God.
On the other hand, God may choose to discipline His sons and daughters to help facilitate their growth. We’ll discuss this topic at greater length in an upcoming study, but for now, let’s consider the circumstances that God might use for this purpose and how those circumstances may deepen our fellowship with Him.
For example, we may have experience with others who have been unfaithful to us in various ways. God has been through that experience as well. Perhaps we have graciously provided for those who were unappreciative of our efforts. God knows that feeling, too. Maybe we’ve been hurt by individuals who abandoned us when they had no further need for us. God is also familiar with that response.
Perhaps we know the weariness of interacting with those who will not do what they should unless they are given a specific set of rules to follow along with consequences for breaking those rules. God had to take that approach with His people as well. Finally, we may know the pain of a betrayal committed by someone who was once close to us. Jesus is all too familiar with that experience.
Deep camaraderie between individuals can only develop among those who have lived through shared experiences. Thus, we should recognize that God may have this objective in mind whenever we encounter His disciplinary efforts within our lives.