We had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? For they disciplined us for a short time . . . but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness.
There was a businessman in a church I served in previously who had poured his life into building his career. We talked many times and he said, “Pastor, I know I am not where I should be, but eventually I’ll come back to God.” But then his teenage son became addicted to hard drugs and renounced his Christian faith.
The father was heartbroken. He said to me one day, “Pastor, I just don’t understand. How could my son rebel against God like he is doing?” I had to tell him the truth. I said, “Your son is just living out what he has watched in your life for the last six or seven years.” You see, by ignoring God’s attempts to bring him back to Himself, the man had unconsciously taught his son to do the same thing. Fortunately, the man was brought to his senses, and he prayed for God’s forgiveness. And eventually his son was restored to the faith as well. Through those difficult circumstances, God brought that father and son back to Himself.
That family’s experience illustrates a wonderful truth about God’s discipline in our lives: His reproofs are restorative. Hebrews 12:9-10 says, “We had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? For they disciplined us for a short time . . . but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness.” Notice the writer did not say, “He condemns us” but “He disciplines us.” If we have trusted Christ as Savior, then God does not condemn us; He disciplines us in order to restore us to a right relationship with Him.
I do not know about you, but as a child I never believed that speech from my parents right before they punished me: “This is going to hurt us more that it hurts you.” I never fell for that . . . until I became a parent. Then I understood exactly what they were saying. It really hurts you to discipline your children. The easier thing to do would be to just let it go. But if you love your child, you know that those sassy replies, those wrong attitudes, those rule-breaking behaviors could lead to something even more serious down the road if you do not deal with them. You love them too much to let their behavior continue.
That is what God says about us. When we disobey Him, He could let it go. But if He did that, the writer of Hebrews said, it would mean we were not His children. “For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?” (v. 7). God’s reproofs are restorative. They are meant for our good.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Reproofs That Restore” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2020.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org