Patience, Discipline and Faith

Posted on · Posted in Discipline, Wisdom

In the context of God’s commands for parents, consider the text of Hebrews 12:5-11. Let’s focus on verse 11 of that passage:

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.

There are three important parts to this verse.

First, discipline is painful rather than pleasant. Discipline is meant to highlight the unpleasantness of sin. Discipline, must not be confused with retribution. A child ought to be motivated to avoid this discipline. It is important that parents respond with pleasant, even words in the course of discipline. This is because it is pleasant words, and not anger, that promotes instruction (Proverbs 16:20-24).

Second, the fruit of discipline is not always seen immediately. As the second part of this verse indicates, it is later on that the fruit of righteousness is yielded. This is where faith comes into play. As with any faith-based action, the assurance comes from things that are not seen (Hebrews 11:1). So, there may not be immediate confirmation that the discipline “worked.” Parents should not discipline simply to manipulate kids into better behavior. Christian parents are to discipline in faith, out of love for God, as God has directed so that God is honored.

Third, the peaceful fruit of righteousness comes to those who have been trained by it. The word for training here is the word used for gymnastics training. Thus, the training is detailed and rigorous. This concept removes the element of retribution from discipline. Biblical discipline is not aimed at getting even, but at pointing children to Christ and their need of him.

Here is one scenario of what this would look like:

Daniel refuses to come quickly when called. When confronted by his mother that biblical obedience is doing exactly what you are told, right away, and with a good attitude, Daniel responds by saying he can’t obey like that. This reasoning needs to be turned into an opportunity for the gospel. 

So Mom says, “Daniel, I know that you can’t obey that way in your own strength. But Christ is able to help those who repent of their sin and seek God for a new heart that does want to obey that way. And this is why Mommy must discipline you. I pray that God will work in your heart. I pray that the unpleasantness of discipline will help you so that the peaceful fruit of righteousness will grow in you. But God is clear, Mom and Dad are to raise you the Lord’s discipline and instruction. And God’s Word is clear about how quickly you must obey. Let’s ask God for his help right now.”

God is in control, not the child and not the parent. The key component in this scenario is faith. Mom disciplines because her confidence lies in things that are unseen. She knows that only God can bring about the needed changes in her son. She is content to trust God that he will honor her faith in his time.

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Jay Younts
John A. (Jay) Younts is the Shepherd Press blogger, and is a ruling elder serving at Redeemer Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moore, South Carolina. He has written Everyday Talk, Everyday Talk About Sex & Marriage, Finding the Right Track, the In Touch With Paul stewardship series, and What About War. He has studied and taught about biblical childrearing for 30 years. He and his late wife Ruth have five adult children.