"7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? 8 If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. 9 Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! 10 They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." Hebrews 12:7-11
I read the story today in an old issue of "Our Daily Bread." A young man had called a talk radio program asking for advice. He described his lifestyle while living at home as a life of wholesome living, good guidance from his parents, and a profession of faith in Jesus Christ. He continued by saying when he left home, he allowed himself to get in with the wrong crowd. Alcohol and drugs were soon a way of life. He also confessed an addiction to pornography.
The radio announcer answered the young man's plea for help by using statements like, "focus on your God-given potential," and "get in touch with your inner self." While both of those statements may possess something that young man needed, I must confess as I read them, I am not sure the troubled young man has been steered by those statements to find solutions. He is having a tough time and he, along with countless others, have the need to know what is happening to them, and its close relationship to the spiritual discipline mentioned in the verses above.
Is there any among us that could tell this young man he has a SIN problem? We shy away from being that direct and open for fear of damaging a friendship. I am suggesting the real friend of someone like this young man will gently and lovingly open his heart and life to discipline from above. It is only when we recognize God's discipline for us, that we will be ready for the encouraging words to focus on our God-given potential.
Have you ever been called on to advise or help someone find solutions for their life, and it became apparent to you that you were dealing with a sin problem? Would you lead them in the direction of repentance, and help them make the turn from worldly ways, to a life of honoring the Lord? Can we become a people showing the way to righteous and wholesome living sometimes leads first through spiritual discipline?
Answers to those questions do not come easy. But look again at the verses above to see what is at stake. "God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness." The Hebrew writer agrees that discipline might be painful, and unpleasant, but "later it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace."