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Discipline Brings A Harvest

Hebrews 12:11
No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. (NIVUK)

This letter is written to believers who were under pressure to retreat from their relationship with Jesus into traditional religion. Persecution was real and would increase. At the same time those who trusted in Jesus had much to learn. Their character needed to be shaped in righteousness through God's Word (2 Timothy 3:16) as they encountered opposition; their faith needed to be strengthened and tested (James 1:2-4). Discipleship is a process of training, equipping and refining just like an athlete must undergo, or a soldier or a skilled person in the workplace (2 Timothy 2:3-6). But progress does not come easily or without pain.

In the crucible of refining (Zechariah 13:8-9), it is easy to feel abandoned, as though God's love has gone for ever. But that is not true. God only disciplines those He loves (Hebrews 12:5-6). The reason is that He wants us to share His holy nature (Hebrews 12:10). But Jesus was realistic when speaking with His disciples: to belong to Him would attract the hatred of the world (John 15:18-21). Faith comes packaged with suffering (Philippians 1:29).

But the result is a harvest of righteousness. That is, a huge multiplication of what is right and good in our character and actions. It is accompanied by a deep inner peace in which the pressurised soul is encased in God's love and equipped to serve Him confidently. Whatever the battle which may rage outside of the believer, his or her heart is steadfast trusting in the Lord (James 3:18).

A soldier or skilled professional may say of a time of crisis that they just did what they were trained to do. So it is with the believer. As we let the Lord train and test us, so we are able to work with Him in quietness and confidence (Isaiah 32:17). But many resist the loving discipline of the Lord through fear or arrogance, insisting on their own action plan to save themselves from pain (Isaiah 30:15). That is foolish because the Lord still longs to show His gracious hand in building us up to be fit to work with Him (Isaiah 30:18). So, allow the Lord to train you, despite the difficulties. He knows what He is doing, and through it He will bring blessing (Romans 8:28).

Gracious God. Thank You for Your training programme for me, to equip me to work with You. I am sorry when I have resisted Your discipline and despised Your loving training. Please help me to understand that Your love for me is infinite and that Your discipline is a necessary part of my spiritual development so that I may produce a harvest of righteousness. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams