Being a Christian – is good when everything is going well. I’m getting on at work, family are happy, health is good, everyone is enjoying church. We often call this “blessing”
But what about when things are not going well. Or what about when the preacher says things I don’t want to hear? What if they even tell me I’m in the wrong and I need to change course. How do I feel about that? We probably don’t call it “blessing.”
Today, we are talking about discipline. What does it mean to be disciplined as a Christian?
- We have great hope in Christ and so we learn self-discipline as believers (v 1-4)
First example – athlete. Mo Farrah -incredible example. He has just run his last competitive race. Also think of footballers who kept playing into their late 30s, even early 40s. How do they do it?
- Encouragement -a great crowd of witnesses (v1) – These are all the people of faith from ch 11 and the image is that they are encouraging us on. We read about them in Scripture. They kept going through tough times because they had faith in God’s promise
- Removing baggage and distractions so we can run freely. Anything that hinders get’s ditched. In spiritual terms this means
- Idolatry -objects, priorities, people that I put ahead of God
- Sin – a constant fight to overcome temptation -these are the things that trip us up
- Eyes forward on Jesus – our leader and our example. We are following him. NB Jesus is both our sacrifice/saviour and our leader/example. He endured the Cross for/because of the joy set before him. So this takes us to our hope. The Cross means we can look forward to his return. It means we are not just focused on this life but on eternity too. It’s not about instant gratification.
2. We have a loving Father and so we should receive and learn from his discipline (v 5-9)
This is the second example. Parents discipline their children because they want the best for them. It is actually a sign that you don’t love and you don’t care if you just walk away.
How does this discipline happen?
- God’s Word – it challenges and disagrees with us. God speaks through Scripture and the Holy Spirit agrees in our hearts with what we see on the page.
- Circumstances – this is why those who say you are going to get all the blessing in this life are wrong. They despise suffering which is the very means God uses for our good.
- The body (church family) – one another. We challenge and encourage. This will sometimes mean tough conversations.
- It is easier to say a pray for someone and then walk away than to sit down and listen to them and find out what is going on
- It is easier to avoid someone or even to just say nice things than to try and work through a problem
God uses these things because he loves us and wants us to grow in him. His plan is for our long term future destiny with him.
In what ways have you experienced God’s discipline recently?
How have you responded?