For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later...
Hello Bay Gospel! I wanted to share something that I've been chewing on this week regarding Sunday's sermon.
One of the clearest example of parental disciplines that I've encountered is not from my own personal life, but when I saw my brother discipline my niece, Allyson, who was about 2.5 years old at this time. I remember it very clearly. We were leaving the mall and getting in the car. Allyson is all buckled in and my brother sits in the drivers seat. But before we take off, Allyson unbuckles herself from the car seat. My brother asks, "Put on your seat belt, please." Allyson defiantly stares back at him. A sly smile curls at the edge of her lips.
Cue the tension.
"Put on your seat belt or else we can't leave." My brother says once more. Again, blatant disobedience. Allyson simply looks at her parents in the eyes without budging. "Put on your seat belt because we don't want to get hurt..." "Put on your seat belt..." "Allyson. Put on your seat belt." I am frozen in between this standoff between my brother and my niece.
I imagine all the parents at this point are smiling at the familiarity of this scene. Oh how often children try to test the limits of their freedom. How often do they try to see just how much they can disobey mommy and daddy. You can see the thought process in the child's eyes. "Will dad really get mad if I don't put on my seat belt?" "Will mom really be angry if I throw my food on the floor?" "I know what I'm doing is wrong, but is it wrong enough to push their buttons?" Children don't need to be taught how to be disobedient.
Needless to say, the next part of the story comes with a sharp rebuke from father to daughter, "PUT ON YOUR SEAT BELT!" Allyson scrambles to put it on and then slowly begins crying. The discipline is painful.
How often do we do this with God? We inch slowly, but more deeply into sin. We test the limits knowing quite well that our initial sin was already crossing the line. And then when we have to face the consequences, we melt into a puddle of sorrow. Maybe it's a sorrow of true repentance or maybe it's a sorrow that we got caught. But in that moment of discipline, we look to God and we think, "This hurts. Why God?" And the answer is clear in Hebrews 13.
"For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it." Hebrews 13:11
It's funny because most of the time when we are being disciplined by our heavenly Father (or even earthly parents), we are receiving something that is 100% deserved because we have done something wrong. We should not have been sinning against the Holy God in the first place and, in a way, we are receiving our just deserts. God could simply punish us for every wrong thing we do and he would be completely justified in doing that. However, Jesus has transformed this picture of a dominating, authoritative figure reprimanding us. As Pastor Charlston mentioned, true discipline aims not to solely punish us, but to restore us to Christ.
After my niece finally got her seat belt on and was in tears, we stopped by a supermarket just down the street. My brother took this time to talk to Allyson as to why he disciplined her. It was not only because it is unsafe and illegal to drive without a seat belt, but because it was wrong for her to be disobedient towards her parents. And at that moment, though she was sad about being yelled at, she wanted nothing else but to be held once again by her mom and dad, the ones who were disciplining her. True discipline restores the relationship between the one being disciplined to the one doing the disciplining.
We often have this wrong mentality that church discipline is simply a way for people to exercise their own vengeful judgment towards other church members. But true church discipline has nothing to do with what an individual feels is right and wrong, but rather it has everything to do with what God's word holds to be true. As we grow more in church discipline, we realize that it has less to do with simply pushing dos and don'ts, and more about pointing our brothers and sisters back to the cross. If we are to be a family, founded upon the Cornerstone that is Christ, then it's imperative for us to strive to live as he calls us to live.
We practice church discipline not because we feel the need to dominate over every aspect of one's life, but because we are called to bring each other back to the Lord. Church discipline is not a cure-all for misbehavior, but rather, it is a reminder for Christians of the finished work that Jesus has done in restoring our relationship with the Father. Church discipline reminds us that now because we have been saved from our sin, Jesus calls us to be holy as He is holy.
1 Corinthians 5
Sexual Immorality Defiles the Church
5 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father's wife. 2 And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you.
3 For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing.4 When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, 5 you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.[a]
6 Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 7 Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. 8 Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
9 I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10 not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. 11 But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. 12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church[b] whom you are to judge? 13 God judges[c] those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”