All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.
Years ago, I was sitting in an airplane that was parked at the gate at DFW International Airport, waiting for a late-night flight to San Diego. As we were getting ready to taxi, I looked out the window at the plane next to us, and I saw this orange streak shoot out from the wingtip. I thought, “That’s strange.” About a minute later, another orange streak came out. The flight attendant was coming down the aisle. I said, “Ma’am, I think that plane is on fire next to us.” She said, “Sir, that couldn’t be.” At about that moment, the whole wing erupted into flames. Suddenly the back door of the plane opened, and the rubber chute came down. People started bounding down the raft and exiting the tarmac. Fire equipment arrived. It was the biggest commotion you have ever seen.
Finally, after about thirty minutes, we were cleared to leave the gate. As we were taxiing, the flight attendant started explaining the safety protocols and the emergency exits–you know, that announcement nobody ever pays attention to? Trust me, everybody was paying attention this time. Some people were even taking notes! Why? Having witnessed a disaster in somebody else’s life, we were especially sensitive to warnings in ours.
It is the same way with God’s discipline in our lives. God’s reproofs are instructional–not only to us but to the people around us. Hebrews 12:11 says, “All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.” Whenever God sends a reproof into your life, it is primarily for your benefit. But it is also for the benefit of people who are watching you. They are to learn from your discipline.
In the same way, we are to learn from God’s reproofs in the lives of other Christians, just as those of us on that plane learned from what we saw happening across the tarmac. That is what Paul reminded the Corinthian Christians in 1 Corinthians 10. They thought they could live however they wanted to without to any correction from God. But Paul reminded them that the Israelites, God’s chosen people, had wandered in the wilderness for forty years as a result of God’s discipline. Paul wrote, “These things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction” (1 Corinthians 10:11). “If you want to know how God deals with His children who are living far away from Him, look at the Israelites,” Paul was saying.
Viewing God’s discipline in other people’s lives ought to be a stark warning to you. Instead of gloating about other people’s circumstances, learn from them. Realize that if you are a Christian and you are living apart from God, God will also bring difficult circumstances into your life–not because He hates you, but because He wants you to return to Him.
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