“Blessed is the man you discipline, O LORD, the man you teach from your law.”
Society today seems to have an aversion to discipline. From my own personal experience and observation, discipline is mostly associated with punishment. People hear the word discipline and immediate think of something unpleasant. While that is part of discipline, it is clearly not what God’s intention for discipline is in our lives, as we can see in this verse.
Discipline is defined as the act of training for a certain code of behavior using punishment as reinforcement. We have gotten so hung up on the punishment part of discipline that we seem to have forgotten the first part – training for a code of behavior. As Christians, God instructs us over and over again that we need to be training ourselves to be holy, to be pure, to be like Jesus. That is certainly a code of behavior, and it is quite a lofty one. To live out fully, it requires a lot of training. It requires discipline. Sometimes, that may include punishment. That doesn’t mean, however, that God doles out punishments every time we sin.
The truth is that sin inherently bears a punishment. From the beginning of time, God made clear that sin leads to death. There’s no discrimination for what the sin is or how severe. Anything outside of the perfect will of God leads only to death in the end. This is justice. God, being good and perfect and holy, tells us and shows us what is good and right and required to be in his presence. Sin is the opposite. It bars us from his presence and leads to death. Thankfully Christ has made a way for us to reach God despite our sin by becoming a perfect sacrifice on our behalf. Still, it is required of Christians to avoid sin and pursue righteousness.
That’s where discipline is important. The code of behavior is the word of God. The punishment is the discord and distress that sin inevitably brings into our lives. As Christians, we must learn to appreciate the discipline of God, knowing that it makes us better, more perfect, closer to Christ. Discipline is a blessing from God. He is helping us, he is training us to a better way. That’s something to be grateful for.
Help me to embrace your discipline. Help me to work hard to train to be more like Christ and to avoid the natural punishments that sin brings to life. Help me not to avoid the more difficult parts of Christian life that discipline requires, but to embrace it as a blessing from you.
In Jesus’ Name,