I am not going to lie to you: I was somewhat of a troublemaker as a youngster. At least that is what I was led to believe. No, I never did drugs of any type nor did I ever engage in any other illicit activity, like going to services at a different church to check out the girls, for example, though that was a perennial temptation. My problems all originated from my default nature to test the limits of everything. That’s what caused the ire of my mother on a daily basis.

So you could say I got disciplined a lot. Or spanked. Or whacked. I don’t care what word you use. I needed it and today I am glad (most of the time) that my mother was up to the task.

But I have to confess I never quite understood what she meant when she said, “I’m doing this because I love you!” Really? I wasn’t buying it. What would she do if she hated me?

But now I have children of my own and I understand. The author of Hebrews said it best: “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). But back then there was no way I could possibly have understood that a) God disciplines only those He loves; b) God disciplines only those who are legitimately His children; c) Discipline is not meant to be fun but trying; d) Discipline, like Bible reading and prayer, is a tool to train us to be better Christians; e) The goal of discipline is to make us share in God’s holiness. This is all there in Hebrews 12:5-11. I encourage you to read it.

This Sunday we will be considering God’s rebuke of David through the prophet Nathan in 2 Samuel 12 and You will be forced to agree with me: David was whacked. He was hit upside the head not by the prophet’s hand but by his own self-proclaimed standards of moral purity.

After hearing about a story where an outrageous act of injustice had been committed against a poor man, David was filled with rage and wanted to throw the book at the perpetrator. But Nathan, without flinching, pointed to David and said, “You are that man!” David realized then that he had sinned against God. What is more, He realized that he was not able to abide even by the small confined space of his own standard of righteousness. So as a child loved by God he had to pay and pay he did.

The punishment would be harsh. The consequences would last for generations. The trail of tears would follow the king and his family as long as they lived. But in the end, God could still call David “a man after my own heart.” Hard to imagine that ever taking place without the 2X4 finding its way to his royal head on that day when he heard a not so ambitious story about a rich man who stole a sheep from a poor peasant.

May we not need the 2X4 treatment. But if we do, may we not reject God on account of it “because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.” (Hebrews 12:6).

Pastor Ivanildo da Costa Trindade
Lead Pastor, Grace Church, Lititz, PA

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