“Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:11).
A good athlete, student, or musician knows that proficiency and achievement in those areas isn’t always easy. A person who seeks to excel in those areas must be willing to accept the challenges associated with instruction, study, practice, and correction. At best, a person who rejects those disciplines may fail to perform during a game, test, or concert. At worst, they may embarrass themselves (and others) when their lack of discipline is revealed.
The point is that a good athlete, student, or performer understands the importance of discipline and correction. The same holds true for our spiritual lives as well. However, there is another perspective to consider regarding this subject.
Imagine if you had a coach or a teacher who never trained, instructed, or corrected you. Think about the prospects for a student, athlete, or musician under the leadership of a coach or teacher who didn’t care enough to discipline those individuals to be their best. With this in mind, we can reasonably conclude that coaches and teachers who fail to instruct, train, and discipline the people who are entrusted to their care will not remain in their positions for very long.
A good teacher or coach will work to motivate, correct, and discipline a student or athlete to be the best he or she can be. The passage quoted above tells us that God does much the same in our spiritual lives as well. But just as an athlete or musician does not look forward to the prospect of a grueling practice session, the process of spiritual correction and discipline is rarely easy. Nevertheless, we can often see the positive changes God produces in us when He has completed that work.
We can turn to the Old Testament book of Proverbs once again to find support for this New Testament idea…
“To learn, you must love discipline; it is stupid to hate correction” (Proverbs 12:1 NLT).
“If you reject discipline, you only harm yourself; but if you listen to correction, you grow in understanding” (Proverbs 15:32 NLT).
“Whoever stubbornly refuses to accept criticism will suddenly be destroyed beyond recovery” (Proverbs 29:1 NLT).
As our author reminded us earlier in Hebrews 10:38. “…the just shall live by faith.” Therefore, we should faithfully trust that God has a purpose behind those periods of spiritual discipline we experience and will ultimately bring something beneficial from them.