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Joy in God’s Discipline: 6 Biblical Truths

‘Fess up! You Get What You Deserve

Typically we do not like being corrected when we are wrong. Many people have a difficult time even admitting to being wrong. Eliphaz, Job’s friend, thought this was true for Job. Eliphaz thought Job was in need of a good dose of divine discipline and that Job wasn’t owning up to what he did. (Sounds like a friend you want to have, right?) Eliphaz basically told Job he should have joy in God’s discipline of him. He felt that Job should bear his suffering happily, because he deserved it, and then God would return to blessing him once again with peace, prosperity, and a large family. However, for Job, there was nothing to confess. He had not sinned.  Job’s trials was not the result of God disciplining him. So is Eliphaz correct? Is there joy in God’s discipline?

Is there Joy in God’s Discipline?

Although Job was guiltless, Eliphaz’s words do have some meaning for us. Discipline in and of itself is never pleasant. But when we are disciplined by God, there are implications to His discipline that we can find joy in. Why should we be happy when God corrects us? Here are six Biblical truths that teach us there is joy in God’s discipline:

Truth #1: God only disciplines His Children

Hebrews 12:7 says, “Endure suffering as discipline: God is dealing with you as sons. For what son is there that a father does not discipline?” When I’m at the store and someone’s child is misbehaving, I don’t jump in and discipline someone else’s child. But if that is my child misbehaving in the store, I can guarantee my child will get a good dose of positive methods of discipline.

“The Look”

My kids know the “momma look.” You know what I’m talking about. You know your mother’s “momma look” too. When I was young, preschool to early elementary age, my dad was the music director, which means my mom sang in the choir. When you got the “momma look” from the choir loft you knew you were trouble, right? My mom could have given the same look to another child in the church and unless it was one of my sisters, it wouldn’t hold the same implication to a child that wasn’t hers. It was those Sundays when you prayed for the preacher to keep on preaching. The “momma look” only works when the child is yours.

Just as we don’t discipline children that don’t belong to us or that we have some king of authority over, God doesn’t discipline those who don’t belong to Him. So if you’ve been able to just do whatever you want and not feel any guilt or discipline, then you might want to check who your spiritual Father is because when we belong to God, you can be sure He will discipline you and bring you back into His will. When God disciplines us, we can be assured that we belong to Him and that assurance brings joy in God’s discipline.

Truth #2: God’s discipline is an indication of His love for us.

Proverbs 3:11-12 says, “Do not despise the Lord’s instruction, my son, and do not loathe His discipline; for the Lord disciplines the one He loves, just as a father, the son he delights in.” Why do we discipline our children? Because we love them and want them to grow up to be morally healthy citizens in our world and spiritually healthy through obedience to God. We don’t enjoy disciplining our kids anymore than we enjoy being disciplined, but we do it because we love them.

When God disciplines, it is always out of a response of His love for us. He knows that to allow to go on the path we’ve set for ourselves will lead to far more unpleasantness than the discipline. But just like a strong-willed, hard-headed child sometimes requires a stronger discipline, sometimes we need a stronger discipline from God for Him to get our attention and to set our feet back on the straight and narrow path. And He will do so because He loves us so much that He sent Jesus to die for us. When we look at God’s discipline as an indication of His great love for us, we can have joy in God’s discipline.

Truth #3: God’s discipline shapes us into His Image and teaches us to be holy.

God’s discipline shapes us into His image and teaches us to be holy. Peter wrote: “As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy’” (1 Peter 1:15-16).  That is the purpose of God disciplining His children – to transform us from our old sinful nature into becoming more like Him. God’s discipline teaches us to be holy. Knowing His discipline is shaping and molding us to be more like Him can give us joy in God’s discipline.

When God disciplines, it is always out of a response of His love for us and to shape us more into His image. That is the purpose of God disciplining His children – to teach us to be holy.

Truth #4: God’s discipline brings repentance which restores our fellowship with Him and deepens our faith breaking the power sin has on us.

While not all testing and trials are indications that we are being disciplined, God does use trials as a way to bring us to repentance and set us back on the path of following Him. If the purpose of discipline is to make us more like Christ and teach us to be holy, then the result of discipline is a renewed fellowship with God and a deeper and stronger faith which empowers us to break the chains of a particular sin that held us in bondage to it. James 1:2-4 says, “Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that we may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” Repentance and restored fellowship gives us joy in God’s discipline.

The result of discipline is a renewed fellowship with God and a deeper and stronger faith which empowers us to break the chains of a particular sin that held us in bondage to it.

Truth #5: God’s discipline is an indicator that God is at work in you.

Philippians 2:13 says, “for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” As He works in our lives, He is busy refocusing our faith, realigning our heart, re-motivating our hands, renewing our love, reshaping our mind, and reviving our witness.

Refocusing our Faith

When we sin, our focus is on ourselves. Satan often tempts us by getting our sight out of focus. He makes things seem fuzzy. He creates “gray” areas in our mind and the black and white of God’s commands aren’t as clear as they once were. Imagine for a moment the Garden of Eden, a talking serpent, and Eve. First of all I just want it known that if there is a serpent I around, I don’t plan to be there. But if there is a talking serpent, yea – I’m outta there! Did you ever wonder why Eve stood around having a conversation with a serpent?

Was eating the fruit the first sin?

Anyway – Satan takes God’s instructions and twists them. We often say that the first sin was Eve eating the fruit, but really the first sin was her lie to Satan. Satan tempts her with the fruit and says, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden?”.

He starts off with getting Eve to question and doubt what God actually said. After all, the instructions came before she was created. God gave Adam the instructions. But hear what Eve replies to Satan: “You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.”

God’s instructions never included the “don’t touch” part. Eve added that all on her own. So either Adam added that part as his own rule for Eve or Eve exaggerated God’s rule. Satan wanted Eve to view God as selfish and overly restrictive. If Adam added to God’s rule, he had good intentions. He was trying to keep his wife from sin and if she never touched it, she would eat it. But the truth is that whenever we add to God’s Word, we create confusion and trouble. If Adam did give the added command, then the question becomes did he tell Eve “God said” when he gave the added rule? If so, then his was the first sin because He lied to Eve. Do you see how out of focus Satan makes everything?

Truth #6: God’s discipline clears our sight so we can see sin the same way God does.

When God disciplines, our sight becomes clear. He makes His way known to us and we are able to see our sin the same way God does. His discipline causes us to repent, and as we do, our focus returns to Him and the plans He has for us – plans to prosper us and not to harm us, plans to give us a hope and future (Jeremiah 29:11)

Realigning our Heart

In every moment of life our hearts are either aligned with God or with Satan. When we give in to temptation and fall into sin, our hearts are aligned with Satan. However, as we repent and turn back to God, our heart becomes realigned to His and our desires become about bringing Him glory rather than ourselves. When our heart is realigned to God, we find joy in living according to His Word. There is joy in serving Him. We can’t wait to tell others what God has done for us. We not only give a tithe, but an offering as well.

Re-motivating our Hands

Whenever we do something wrong, we tend to hide. That was the result of Adam and Eve’s sin and its been the result down through ages. When there is sin, we might drop out of church, stop reading the Bible, stop praying. We begin to find excuses for why we are sinning that will justify our actions. We drop out of all the things we do at church, such as serving on committees, teaching a small group, working in the nursery, or whatever else you do in your church.

But when God disciplines and brings us back into the sheepfold and there is true repentance, we become re-motivated to serve God. Our hands are re-motivated to the tasks that God calls us to do and we are ready to serve Him. In fact, we can’t wait to serve Him. No one has to twist our arm. The pastor might say, “We are currently in need of some volunteers to clean the bathrooms between services.” You don’t look around waiting to see if someone else volunteers first. Instead you’re hand is the first to go up and there is joy in cleaning the toilets because you’re doing so for the one who gave His life for you.

A church full of God’s people should never lack for people ready to put their hands to work in service for God. If you have no desire to serve Him, you might want to look for the sin in your life.

A church full of God’s people should never lack for people ready to put their hands to work in service for God. If you have no desire to serve Him, you might want to look for the sin in your life.

Renewing our Love for God

As we experience God’s forgiveness our love for Him is renewed and we can stand in awe that the Holy, Righteous, Merciful God forgives us when we least deserve it. We come face to face with his lovingkindness and see that His mercies are new every morning. We gain a full realization of what our sin cost Jesus and that it was our sin that was the hammer driving the nails into His hands. When we become brokenhearted over our sin and experience God’s forgiveness, our love and gratitude swells within us. Instead of Satan’s lie that God is selfish and overly restrivtive, we see a God who sets His rules, expectations, and standards for our protection so that we can live a life of joy and fullness in Him.

Reshaping our Mind to dwell on things above

As we re-experience God’s love and forgiveness, our mind is reshaped so it is once more able to dwell on things above. Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable — if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise — dwell on these things.” It’s very hard for our minds to dwell on these things when we are caught up in the middle of sin. God’s discipline helps us reshape our minds and thoughts so that we can once again dwell on these things.

Reviving our Witness

Lastly, God works in us to revive our witness. Once we sin and it comes to the attention of others, our witness for Christ is damaged. But through confession and forgiveness, our witness can be restored and others see the work of Christ in our lives.

Yes, there is joy in God’s discipline

We can certainly choose to despise God’s discipline. We can become angry and bitter. And we can be hardheaded and hardhearted. We can have a spiritual temper tantrum and demand our own way. Or, we can recognize that our loving Heavenly Father, is tenderly calling us back to Him. Being angry and bitter about God’s discipline is Satan creating that fuzzy view once again. Won’t you let God give you a new focus?

Why should we experience joy in God’s discipline? Because it indicates we are His children who He loves and because His disciplines shapes us into His image as He teaches us to be holy. His discipline brings us to repentance which restores our fellowship with Him and grows our faith and it indicates that He is at work in our lives refocusing, realigning, re-motivating, renewing, reshaping, and reviving us.

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