Proverbs 3:11–12 “My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, 12 for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.”
We must not make the assumption that “discipline” & “reproof” are executed angrily by God. This is a human attachment which is by no means necessary. Training and reproof can often – and perhaps MOST often ought to be done gently and lovingly. Picture a father with his steadying hand on the bicycle while his sweet daughter attempts to ride for the first time without training wheels. It is a stereotype of fallen man that posits these roles to mirror Marine drill-sergeants. It need not be the case at all. In fact, God’s reproofs are never mean, arbitrary, disproportionate nor punitive. They are ALWAYS borne of love and affection.
This need to refrain either from despising (treating lightly) or wearying of the Lord’s discipline is true whether you are the subject of such loving discipline, or if you are in leadership and must be an agent in carrying it out, or, if you are part of a Body which engages actively in such outward love. And what applies to leadership in the Church here, equally well applies to parenting in our homes.
At least three applications must be made.
a. The sinner (and sometimes the Christian too) treats the Father’s discipline as though it is a light thing. Either that God does not discipline at all and just leaves us to ourselves, or, that He does not take unrepentant sin in our lives very seriously. It is easy then too – if we DO live in the reality of His loving discipline, to grow weary of it, as though we can do NOTHING right and want to just get away from every manifestation of it. Such then is the need to be reminded this is love, and the product of His delight in us. To pay us the supreme compliment, that the Lord of the universe pays attention to the details of our lives.
b. Leadership can treat discipline lightly and thus neglect it. Or, being confronted with many needs to administer it in certain seasons, can grow exceedingly weary in the process. But we are to be agents of God’s love – NOT His wrath. We must keep this focus and not let it cross over into something heavy and odious. We too must remember how the Father is delighting in sons and daughters, and that we are there to manifest His love, care and concern in His active involvement in their lives.
c. So too a congregation can begin to wonder if Church discipline is really all that necessary. After all, it is painful and uncomfortable. We naturally dislike it. As a people we can grow weary and just say – “let’s let God handle it alone – why get ourselves all upset at people’s sins and involved in them?” Then again, we must take up the banner of love and be sure we do not neglect to love in the hard places. To do what is uncomfortable, when it is best for the ones we are loving in Christ’s name.