The Bible teaches clearly that the various challenges or hardships Christians face may at times result from God’s choosing to discipline us, in order to make us more faithful to Him. From time to time, a conversation will reveal problems and troubles that seem to indicate that God is dealing with the inquirer in this way.
Discipline from the Lord Is a Scriptural Concept
“Blessed is the man you discipline, O Lord; the man you teach from your law; you grant him relief from days of trouble” (Psalm 94:12–13, NIV).
“My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in” (Proverbs 3:11–12, NIV).
Discipline Is Desirable, Considering the Alternatives
“So he gave them what they asked for, but sent a wasting disease upon them” (Psalm 106:15, NIV).
“I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize” (1 Corinthians 9:27, NIV).
God Has Good Reasons for Disciplining Us
1. He wants to lead us to repentance: “Yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us” (2 Corinthians 7:9, NIV).
2. He wants to restore us to fellowship: “That which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ” (1 John 1:3).
3. He wants to make us more faithful: “Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful” (1 Corinthians 4:2, NIV).
4. He wants to keep us humble: “To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness’” (2 Corinthians 12:7–9, NIV).
5. He wants to teach us spiritual discernment: “But if we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment. When we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned with the world” (1 Corinthians 11:31–32, NIV).
6. He wants to prepare us for more effective service: “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58).
1. Encourage the inquirer. He or she can be thankful for the Lord’s disciplining. By disciplining, God is not discarding His child or disowning him or her, but rather:
A. He is confirming His love for you: “For whom the Lord loves He chastens” (Hebrews 12:6).
B. He is confirming His relationship with you: “If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons” (Hebrews 12:8, NIV).
C. He wants you to respond in obedience and faithfulness to Him: “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep Your word” (Psalm 119:67).
2. Help the individual to open up to the Lord in the manner of the psalmist: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23–24).
Some questions might help, for example:
• Why do you feel that God is disciplining you?
• Do you feel that there is some disobedience or sin in your life that God is dealing with?
3. In no way minimize the sin or disobedience the person admits. This is the basis on which you can ask him or her to repent, confess, and be restored to fellowship.
4. Go over and share Christian Biblical Counsel: SEEKING FORGIVENESS AND RESTORATION, especially emphasizing 1 John 1:9.
5. Encourage the person to start and continue a daily devotional experience with God through reading His Word and praying.
6. Encourage seeking God’s direction and discovering His purpose for life. After receiving God’s discipline, one can go on to obedience and blessing and opportunities to live for and serve Christ.
7. Recommend finding a good church where there is a biblically oriented fellowship. Christian friends help to make us stronger!
8. Pray for complete restoration and renewal.
1 Corinthians 9:27
The Billy Graham Christian Worker’s Handbook; World Wide Publications, 1984, 1996