Chapter 12:3-11 (ESV) - Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?
“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
nor be weary when reproved by him.
For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and chastises every son whom he receives.”
It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 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.
Question to consider: What is the discipline of God, and why do we experience it?
In verse 2, the writer asked the reader to “look to Jesus” and the cross to help them endure through their struggles with sin and persecution. Other translations like the NIV and NASB translate it as “fix our eyes upon Jesus.” The author is not asking people to just give Jesus a passing glance, but to remain focused on Him to keep from growing weary in their faith. Just as Jesus focused on the joy that would come on the other side of the cross, we can focus on Christ Himself and know that our suffering is not in vain. In reading today’s passage, it forces us to ask ourselves, “Do I really resist sin?”
Sometimes, when we see the wicked prosper and those who reject God live a life of ease, it can cause us to wonder why the life of a Christian seems to be so difficult. After all, doesn’t God love us and want us to be happy? Today, the writer is reminding us that it is precisely because God loves us and calls us His children that He disciplines us. God uses our struggle against sin and the things that can weigh us down in life to refine us like the purest gold.
God wants more for us than just happiness. He wants us to be able to share His holiness. Happiness is fleeting and depends on circumstances which change like the weather in Kansas, but the holiness that comes from God brings us into a state of peace with Him. Deep down, everyone longs to be at peace with God. So let us encourage one another to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and face our struggles knowing that God loves us and is perfecting our faith.
Dear heavenly father, thank you for loving us enough to desire our holiness and keep us from being enslaved to sin. Help us to learn from our struggles and grow in our faith so that we can delight ourselves in the things that please you instead of the things of this world that do not last. Above all, we thank you for Jesus, whose suffering has paid for our sin once and for all. Amen.