The Risen Lord said: “I correct and discipline everyone I love. So be diligent and turn from your indifference.”
This letter to the church in Laodicea was a wake-up call. They were full of self confidence but the Lord tells them that they have absolutely no reason for such confidence. In a city that prided itself on its wealth, they are told how poor they are. In a region famed for its wool, they are told that they are naked, and there was no humiliation more terrible in the ancient world than that. In an area that was famous for its eye salve for sore eyes, they are told that they are blind. But the Lord hasn’t given up on them. Although he is appalled by their lukewarm attitude and shocked by their misplaced self-confidence, he is eager for them to change. His reason for correcting and disciplining them is because he loves them.
Discipline is never enjoyable at the time, but when the words are full of love and wisdom it is a very foolish person who ignores them. I would be intrigued to know what words of discipline you remember from your parents and others who cared for you. My own parents were very loving but had very clear boundaries – and if I stepped outside them, I soon knew about it! At the time, I certainly wasn’t thrilled by their discipline but, looking back, I realise they were putting in place rules that have kept me safe and secure ever since.
In the letter to the Hebrews, the writer makes some very powerful observations about discipline. He says that if God didn’t discipline us, it would prove that we were not really his children at all. It would show that we were illegitimate. Our legitimacy is proven by the fact that God’s intense love for us expresses itself in discipline. He wrote: “Since we respected our earthly fathers who disciplined us, shouldn’t we submit even more to the discipline of the Father of our spirits, and live for ever?” (Hebrews 12:9).
In what ways have you experienced God disciplining you?
Loving God, forgive me for those times when I have resented and rejected your discipline. Help me to see that your words of discipline are always words of love. Amen