Discipline and discipleship

by Rev Jason Phua

Bible Readings: Hebrews 11:32-12:13; Psalm 112:1-10

READ (Verse chosen for reflection)
Hebrews 12:6 “For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”

The author of Hebrews stated with clarity that God disciplines those whom He love. The goal of discipline is to help those whom God love to grow in the likeness of Jesus Christ. Godly discipline is therefore not to be shunned but instead to be seen as the way of discipleship. The word “discipline” in its Greek “paideou” gives the sense of “correction”, “guidance” and even “rebuke”.

In this day and age, such a word is not highly tolerated and widely received. In fact, some believers even consider it “un-Christian” to discipline someone even if the discipline is done out of love and for the sake of discipleship. No wonder many are getting nowhere in our attempts to fulfil what the Lord has commissioned the church to do i.e. “to make disciples” (Matthew 28)

I know of believers who refused to discipline their church leaders who committed wrong-doings which clearly call for them to step down from ministry. Their reasons were that these church leaders had done great things; they had been serving for a long time and that no one is perfect. If these are the reasons, then everyone can serve as a leader in the church. There need not be any criteria nor is there a need for spiritual accountability. Anything goes. In that case, there really isn’t a need for the church to exist either since we can just do what we feel is right.

Perhaps it is not so much that some believers are not interested in communicating what is right or wrong; but there is the inherent fear that the talk of discipline creates disunity and even unpopularity. Such thinking is very much a form of deception. Discipline, when done in a godly and loving manner can create even more unity and authenticity. The lack of popularity is a personal struggle with insecurity and that should never come into the way of answering God’s call for us to do what is right. Let us therefore not be afraid of having discipline in the church as an important ingredient of discipleship. For that is the way of the Father.

Lord our God, may you grant us the humility, courage and love to do what is good and right; even if doing these things may cost us our “popularity” with people. Amen.


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