7 If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? 8 But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. 9 Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. 11 Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
A couple weeks ago we observed that one of the duties fathers have before the eyes of God is to exhort and comfort and bear witness to each of our children. We are to bring them to a knowledge of the truth, striving to show them the beauty of a life lived in honor of our Lord Jesus Christ. Today we learn that an essential part of that training is discipline. Fathers are to discipline their children.
We learn from our text today a number of things about this discpline. First, discipline originates from a specific type of relationship. It is our sons and daughters that we are called upon as fathers to discipline. As much as we might deplore the conduct of the neighbors’ kids, as much as we might grieve for their long term health and prosperity, those children have not been entrusted to us and so it is not our responsibility to shepherd them. But it is our responsibility to discipline our own children – precisely because they are our own children given to us by God Himself in trust.
Second, discipline aims to imitate the discpline of our Father in Heaven. Hence, discipline is designed primarily for the profit of our children and not for our own profit. Indeed, when we use discipline primarily as a tool for our own comfort then we are misusing the tool. God discplines us for our profit, that we might share his holiness. So we are called to discipline our children for their profit, that they might be blessed. Discipline is a gift that we are to give to our children not a set of shackles to wrap around their legs.
Third, discipline is supposed to be unpleasant. Not all gifts are pleasant in the short term. A father who makes his son weed the garden is not given a short term gift but a long term gift – training the rewards of hard work and diligence. A father who spanks his disobedient child is not giving his child something that is pleasant in the short term – but in the long term he is delivering his son from hell. And what greater gift could be given? Discipline is supposed to hurt.
So, fathers, discipline your children. Do not grow weary in doing good. And discipline them because they are your children and you love them – so the discipline should be for their good, their profit. And remember that this means it will hurt.
Children, for your part, respect your fathers and mothers. Hebrews calls upon you to honor and respect your parents in the midst of discipline. God has entrusted your parents with this authority and insists that you must heed and obey – even as you would obey God Himself.
These admonitions remind us of the many ways in which we have fallen short. We have sinned and are in need of the forgiving grace of God in Christ. And so let us confess the many ways in which we have fallen short. We will confess our sins privately and then corporately using the printed confession found in your bulletin. Let us kneel together as we confess.