My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline . . . because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.
— Proverbs 3:11-12
The Bible shows that one of the most common ways God interacts with us is by calling and treating us as his children.
But what does it mean that “the Lord disciplines those he loves”? When we think about discipline, we may be reminded of harsh words, consequences, and punishment for bad behavior. Parents sometimes discipline their children in those ways, but does God do that with us?
The writer of Hebrews sheds some light on this. Hebrews 12 quotes these verses from Proverbs and encourages listeners to “endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children” (Hebrews 12:7). The writer even says we are not legitimate sons and daughters of God if we are not disciplined by him.
But what does this discipline look like? Hardship. God most often disciplines his children by allowing them to endure hardship, difficulties, and trials. So “discipline” is less about giving consequences for bad behavior and more about shaping and forming us to depend on God fully and to trust him completely.
Think about Jesus in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11). That was a trial sent by the Father to “discipline” his Son—showing that he could depend on and fully trust the Father. How might your heavenly Father be disciplining you today?
Loving Father, thank you for adopting us as your children. Guide us to endure trials, and strengthen us to trust and depend on you in all situations. Amen.