Hebrews 12:7-11 (NLT) As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children. Who ever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father? If God doesn’t discipline you as he does all of his children, it means that you are illegitimate and are not really his children at all. Since we respected our earthly fathers who disciplined us, shouldn’t we submit even more to the discipline of the Father of our spirits, and live forever? For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness. No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.
On of the things I have learned about through the Journey discipleship program is the difference between the pruning process and discipline process. God uses both to shape our lives. It is easy to want to resist both but they are needed for true growth to occur. Sometimes it is hard for us to tell the difference while we are in the process because we are so blinded by our own actions.
Pruning is about God taking things out of my life that may be good, but can slow down the growth that is needed to take me to the next level. Some things He prunes off before they go bad, other things He prunes off because they are holding down the growth. It is not an easy thing to accept, but He is doing it for me.
One of my nieces loves fruit, she also loves to eat. On the short side fruit is good for her but too much of even a good thing can be bad. We have to cut her off from the fruit or she will make herself sick. This is pruning, not disciplining.
Discipline on the other hand occurs when I know what I should be doing, but I make a conscious decision not to do it. Or when I know what I should not be doing and chose to do it anyway. He gives us some grace in the learning process, but eventually it just becomes disobedience.
I immediately think of my three-year old grandson. One of the things we do in the evening when he and his sister are at our house is let the kids ride their bikes in the road. Traffic is generally non-existent and if they see a car coming they know to go to the side of the road. He loves to get to ride with the “big kids” and since my husband and I are both out there with them he gets the privilege.
However, the rest of the time there is a line on our driveway that he can not go past. It is certainly not safe for him to be near the road. He is pretty impulsive. At three it is hard to understand that some roads are safer than others. Our neighborhood is kid friendly, but all not neighborhoods are and he goes to different places with each grandparent, and he has five sets of just grandparents.
When he was first learning the difference, he would insistently want to walk in the road on the curb. Not on the “road” but still in the road. Trying to teach him that we only get to ride bikes in the road and only at certain times was at times tiresome. There was a lot of redirection, and Mimi or Papa chasing him back into the driveway where they play. When there were other kids getting to play in the road when he couldn’t, it would infuriate him.
However after a few weeks, he learned the rules. He knows when he is walking he must have a hand in his from an adult to go out into the road. He knows that when he is on his bike he can ride in the road if Mimi or Papa are there with him. He also knows that just because other children are riding bikes in the roads doesn’t mean he can. Now if he chooses to disobey the rule he loses the privilege of bike riding and if necessary has to go inside.
It is that way in our lives. God gives us guidelines to operate in. Sometimes those guidelines are dependent upon the situation we are in. Sometimes other people can do things that God told us not to do.
Initially those guidelines feel unnatural. We have to learn to operate in them. We have to learn the self-discipline or habit of our new nature. We get a lot of redirection from God. Eventually though it becomes a choice. We either stay in those guidelines or we face consequences.
Initially those guidelines feel like we have no freedom. I hear a lot of people speak out they don’t want to surrender their life to God because of “all the things they can’t do.” But when you start to really walk in the guidelines of the Word, you can see why God asks those things of us. It no longer feels like a punishment but there is freedom in that walk. The new nature takes over based on the knowledge of what that discipline brings – growth.
This blog is part of a #Write31Days series on growth. 31 Days is an online writing challenge, where bloggers pick one topic and write a post on that topic every day.