February 1st, 2022 – Later Tuesday Afternoon
“All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.” ~Hebrews 12:11
Have you ever paid for a gym membership, only to find that you never really used it? I think it is a pretty long-standing joke that gym memberships are a waste of money to some (eager, but short-winded exercises) and a huge profit to others (gym owners) due to how infrequently many people use them. [I myself have never purchased a gym membership, but I think I may have purchased a month’s membership at a community pool once; even if I didn’t actually buy a whole month, my plans to frequently swim were woefully unfulfilled.]
In a much more serious, yet seemingly similar comparison, it seems that we often neglect the exercise that comes from the discipline of the Lord. How do I know this? Well, I base this assumption on at least three different factors: 1. I myself struggle to live with the awareness of the Lord’s discipline, let alone to respond to it with a tender and submissive heart that allows the Lord to train me for righteousness. Perhaps it is naïve or prideful for me to assume that others are like me, but I do know from communication and experience that there are indeed others like me in this regard. 2. I often see those who at least claim to know Christ around me (and around the world) who respond to trouble with an angry, frustrated, shattered, and/or restless heart. If these folks (myself included) had a heart that sought to be trained by discipline, they would not continue to respond with an ungodly, untrusting, and rebellious attitude. 3. The peaceful fruits of righteousness are sadly lacking in so much of what is known as “The Church”. This points not so much to a lack of discipline, but to a lack of training by that discipline.
Remember, if we really belong to Christ, we will be disciplined by the Father. Our response to His discipline is not dependent on Him, though; rather, it is dependent on us. If we are seeing in ourselves a lack of the peaceful fruit of righteousness (integrity, virtue, purity of life, uprightness, and correctness in thinking, feeling, and acting), including in how we respond to affliction, we ought to stop and consider the discipline of the Lord and our response to it. Discipline is not joyful, but sorrowful; it is not a bed of roses or a walk in the park. Discipline is meant to be sorrowful and painful – not because the Father is sadistic or unkind, but because we need to be disciplined in order to produce the fruits in keeping with salvation.
I mentioned the gym membership example because the word that is used for “training” or “exercised” in this passage is the transliterated Greek word “gymnazō” which has the idea of vigorous exercise. It reminds me of a gymnasium; rightly so, because the idea of vigorous exercise for a good desired end is the idea that you and I ought to get when we think of the discipline of the Father and our response to it.
So, are you producing the peaceful fruits of righteousness in your life? Are you responding with a humble and pliable attitude towards the discipline of the Lord? Are you enjoying His peace in the midst of it all? Do not forget the mercy, grace, and faithfulness of our Father; He disciplines those He loves and He produces His fruit in those who are trained by it. May we be tender, pliable, and trainable – in and to His hands.