Do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor faint when you are reproved by Him; for those whom the Lord loves He disciplines.
Every nine to twelve months, our switchboard lights for up a couple of days with people calling from around the country, and they all say the same thing: “We thought we just saw your pastor on TV, but he sure looked a lot younger.” When we get those calls, I know immediately what is happening: the Game Show Network is once again showing reruns of my appearance on “Card Sharks” more than thirty-five years ago. I remember it like it was yesterday. On one of those episodes, the host said, “We surveyed 100 ministers and asked them this question: Is it okay to tell children that if they are bad, God will punish them? How many ministers said yes?” My opponent was very sophisticated and articulate, and she basically relegated the idea of God punishing people to the dark ages. She said that number was probably very small. Then the host turned to me and said, “Well, Robert, you are a preacher. What do you say?”
My mind immediately raced over some of those stories in the Old and New Testaments where God did punish people, even children, when they were disobedient to Him. But I also realized that to the general population, the idea of God picking on people not His own size was somehow distasteful. So I admit, I hedged my answer.
Had the writer of Hebrews been in my spot on that game show, he would not have hedged his answer whatsoever. In Hebrews 12, he made it very clear that God punishes unbelievers who are disobedient to Him, but God disciplines believers who are disobedient to Him.
Look at verses 5-6: “You have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons, ‘My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor faint when you are reproved by Him; for those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and He scourges every son whom He receives.’”
There is a difference between God’s wrath and God’s discipline. God’s wrath is the anger that He pours out upon unbelievers. The Bible says everyone has sinned; everyone is deserving of the anger of God. But the Bible says we as Christians are exempt from God’s wrath. Why? Because God poured out the wrath that we deserve on His own Son, Jesus Christ. You and I never have to worry about the wrath of God because Jesus felt the full brunt of the anger that you and I deserved. As Roman 8:1 says, “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” We are exempt from God’s wrath.
But God’s discipline is the correction He brings into a believer’s life in order to restore him. While Christians are exempt from God’s wrath, the Bible says we are guaranteed God’s discipline. If you wander away from God as a believer, God is going to discipline you.
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