“Better do it again.” I didn’t want to hear those words. I had already labored to put three coats of mud on the joints of my house. My neck hurt. My arms were tired. I was sick of the dust. It looked acceptable to me. But when my mentor came through to examine my work, his comment was, “Better do it again.”
I knew he was right. It wasn’t smooth enough. Too many places where I had skimped with mud, or over-did the mud. I could have said “No”, but I did, down deep inside, want the house to look nice.
Now, 15 years later, I’m so thankful for my mentor. I can look at the house with pride in my labor, rather than wishing I had done another coat.
Discipline is painful. The author of Hebrews says, “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:11) I don’t enjoy being disciplined, and really don’t enjoy the pain of disciplining myself.
That is, until I look at the results. That’s what makes the pain worthwhile. When I focus on the pain, it hurts. (Duh!) But when I focus on the final results, I can find joy even in the pain. There is a purpose for the pain – to make me better at whatever.
There are times we need mentors to push us beyond ourselves. Coaches will challenge their teams to work beyond their natural inclination, to run until it hurts, and then run some more. The goal is to be in such good shape that running during the game will produce a victory.
There are many times as a Christian when I need the Lord to discipline me. And He does that, not because He’s angry with me, but because He wants me to be like Jesus. He pushes me, prods me, sometimes brings seemingly unreasonable pain, but the goal is Christ-likeness. When I focus on the pain, it hurts. But when I focus on what God is producing in me, there’s joy – a ‘harvest of righteousness and peace’.
It is good to be disciplined by the Lord. But it is also good – even better – if I learn to discipline myself. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 11, “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.” We have the opportunity to discipline ourselves, to examine ourselves, in order to find and fix those areas where we are not Christ-like.
John tells us “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when He appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” (1 John 3:2-3) Fix your eyes on ‘this hope’. That will motivate you to purify yourself like Christ.
When we fail to discipline ourselves, or when we miss some area where we need discipline, that’s when God steps in to bring that discipline into our lives, because He doesn’t want us to be “condemned with the world”. He loves us too much to just let us go!
Pastor John Wetzig