For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.Hebrews 12:11
My preferred learning method involves ease, plenty, and total lack of pain or inconvenience. The problem is that I have never learned anything in that environment—and you probably haven’t either. Such ease easily leads to what the ancients call acedia (ah-KAY-de-a), or “not caring,” a mindless apathy. Some say that acedia characterizes our age better than anything else. We weren’t made for acedia. It rots our souls. Real life matters, and sometimes it is really hard.
In the time between God’s creation of all things as good and the restoration of all things at the return of Christ, we have pain. This pain emanates from the Genesis 3 fall of mankind. This life is full of toil and pain, and the joy we possess comes from living with confident assurance of Christ’s sufficiency in all things, our hope in life and death. Walking with Christ in a fallen world is sometimes a lot of hard work, and through this work God disciplines us.
The word for “discipline” in Hebrews 12:11 concerns the guiding of children into that which is good and profitable for life. Discipline is hard, but it is effective. It is the process by which one is made a disciple, and it is fully God’s work. The centerfold of this issue discusses several spiritual disciplines, the kind of activity that does not make a Christian but leads the Christian to maturity and stability.
As we seek maturity and stability, we enter dangerous territory. The one who seeks Christ will encounter resistance from the world, our flesh, and the devil. Luther called this tentatio, a type of testing that always opposes the work of Christ in the human soul.
As Christ works in us through these disciplines, we encounter the enemy of our soul afresh. But in every time of testing, we once again find Christ to be sufficient. Our confidence is strengthened as we consider the sufficiency of Christ, who is the object of our faith. I pray that in this season your faith is strong, tested, and growing. Be patient and steadfast. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but in the end it is good.
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