No. 294. Thanksgiving and Discipline.

Colours of the Rainbow > Thanksgiving > No. 294. Thanksgiving and Discipline.

So hands up who likes being ‘told off’. That is so often what we associate with discipline; someone telling us what we have done wrong. Being ‘disciplined’ has the whiff of being deliberately ‘naughty’, and then being punished. Even the word disciplinarian speaks of someone who is very strict, and who enforces the ‘rules’ with penalties if necessary. So the words ‘discipline’ and ‘love’ don’t always sit comfortably together in our modern world where, in some circles, even saying ‘no’ to a child is seen as negative and controlling.

Well that frame of reference does not apply to our heavenly Father who, we are told, ‘disciplines those whom He loves.’ We are told that while it may not feel great, ‘God disciplines us for our good that we may share in His holiness.’ Hebrews 12:4-12. God disciplines or ‘trains’ us for our good, so that we will live more and more from our ‘new life in Christ and become a ‘partaker of His divine nature’. It’s all to make us more like Jesus. How wonderful, truly something for which we can be very grateful.

The word discipline comes of course from the word disciple, and so if we reckon on ourselves being Jesus’ ‘disciples’, we have surely signed up for the teaching and training that that will involve. Jesus twelve disciples often found themselves being corrected by Jesus, but with what love and wisdom. He never put them down, but always sought to show them ‘the better way’.

When they were arguing about who would be the greatest, He shows them a little child and teaches them that ‘the greatest among you should be like the youngest and the one who rules like the one who serves.’ Luke 22:24-28. He taught, then demonstrated servant leadership to them by taking the towel and washing their feet when no one else did. John 13:4-5. He rebuked them when they wanted to call down fire on a village that did not welcome Him. Luke 9:51-56. But He never gave up on them or shamed them unkindly.

If we can see that all the Lord’s disciplining of us comes from His heart of love, and from His intense desire to make us like Himself, to grow us into mature sons, then we can welcome His discipline and allow it to reaffirm our place in His Father’s heart. As the writer to the Hebrews points out ‘If you are not disciplined then you are illegitimate children and not true sons.’ Hebrews 12:7,8. He also encourages those feeling wearied by the Lord’s discipline in their lives to strengthen themselves and not cave in. (My interpretation of verses 12 and 13.)

If we need biblical evidence of God’s love for us when we are being corrected, then we need look no further than how Jesus spoke to the Laodicean church. Revelation 3:14-21.  This church, it would appear, was not ‘on fire’. On the contrary they were so half hearted that Jesus uses a very graphic picture of ‘spitting them out of His mouth’. Quite a stinging rebuke. One at which many of us, in our day, might well take offence. He then, in what would be an uncomfortable conversation for any of us, goes on to point out that they are also deluded about how well they are doing.

But then, as we listen to the conversation a little longer, we hear not just the stinging rebuke but the love and longing in His heart to bring them close and to give them all that they need to become the people He is looking for them to be.  There is no Sergeant Major tone here. ‘Get your act together’. ‘Buck up’. ‘Work a bit harder’. ‘Grovel a bit longer’. Instead we hear an incredible offer, ‘Come and get what you need, spiritual riches, rich garments of splendour, Isaiah 60:1, eye salve – fresh revelation, and I hear an echo of Isaiah 55:1,2 ’Come buy…..without money or cost.’ What an amazing response from the Lord.

Then He says those wonderful words, ‘Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline’. He is saying in effect, “I am being this strong with you because I love you.” The atmosphere in this church might make Him ‘sick’, but He loves them so, so much that He wants change, and the change He most wants is for them to welcome Him right back into the centre of their hearts and lives. ‘Here I am’, He says, ‘I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.’ Now that is what I call a wonderful offer of restitution, an offer none of us can refuse.

Thanksgiving helps us to receive discipline with joy and expectancy. It helps us to receive it from the hand of a loving Father who just wants our best. ALWAYS!!!  Thanksgiving will stop us from becoming resentful or bitter. Hebrews 12:15. It will keep our hearts soft and open, to His rebuke, and then the quicker we respond the quicker we will learn, grow and be changed one more degree into His likeness, and also enjoy the pleasure of an ‘intimate meal’ with Him. Revelation 3:20. Yes! Being thankful for the discipline of the Lord is a wise and fruitful way to go.


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