4 June 2014 by Jason Law CM –
Pr Aris Siew is no stranger to most Christians in Malaysia. Along with Patrick Leong, and the Suwitos, he’s one of the leading Christian singers in this nation. What some may not know, however, is that he is also a pastor who heads a cozy and hospitable church full of young people in Cheras, called the Praise City Church.
On the 25th of May, 2014, Pr Aris gave a homily about discipline. This was the last in a series about the important area of family, and he was giving practical advice to young parents. Its guiding principles, however, can also be applied to the lives of every Christian in every organisational setting, and they provide an understanding of the role of discipline in our lives, including that between us and God.
Poor discipline has consequences. We see the effects of poor discipline very often in the lives of children of Biblical figures; even in the lives of the children of good men like Adam, Aaron, Eli, David, Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, and Josiah. Pr Aris shared that in a genuine relationship between parents and children, or between mentor and mentee, there is always a place for discipline.
The Bible clearly reminds us of this in Hebrews 12:5-6. Just like the aforementioned relationships, our relationship with God is more than a mere transactional one, and more than just a series of ‘hellos’ and ‘byes’; it goes deeper, and sometimes elements that are harmful and damaging to our lives have to be rooted out.
New International Version (NIV)
5 And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says,
“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,
and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
6 because the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”
We often talk about discipleship, which is a concept that derives its meaning from the word discipline, but how often are we willing to accept discipline in our lives? Pr Aris pointed out that in order to be discipled into strong followers of Christ, we have to be able to accept authority and correction in our lives. There is a need for discipline when there is sin, and true love does difficult things for a future good.
Pr Aris shared that selfish love keeps quiet, very often for a comfort level. Parents pretend not to see when their children lie and steal at a young age, pastors do not confront the sin in their church members’ lives, coaches overlook the lack of industry in their players, bosses end up living detached lives from their workers. Most of these arise from self-centered reasons, directed inwards out of fear of confrontation and being disliked, and the need to be popular becomes paramount to those who should have led responsibly.
All these examples lead to consequences; when discipline is not enforced, chaos will ensure. Children grow up to live damaging and wasted lives, the church becomes a den of sin, the team becomes weak, and the company ends up in stagnancy and bankruptcy. Worse of all, the lack of discipline encourages an offhand attitude concerning sin, often extending to society and leading to its breakdown. Discipline, though difficult, plants good seeds in a person’s live, and is fundamentally an expression of love.
Discipline Reveals Our Status
The passage of Hebrew 12:5-6 reveals significant evidence about our status with God; legitimate children, particularly of God, are always disciplined (v6). As an illegitimate child is often viewed as an outcast by the society and does not have rights to the parents’ inheritance, there is import in this identity. Having recognized that a good father always disciplines his children, and knowing our identity in Christ, this will transform periods of trials into becoming highly heartening times, and a reminder of who we are in Christ.
We know that God loves us, and when He disciplines us, it is for the purpose of bringing us back to the right path with Him. He will allow us to go through trials in order to teach us and to mature us. He is telling us that He loves us too much to allow us to keep walking on the road to destruction. Discipline reveals our true status in Christ.
Discipline Determines Our Paths In Life
Discipline also determines our paths in life and our future. It helps to prepare us for future challenges in our lives, and for many young people, our future roles require a certain aptitude and attitude. Productive, disciplined workers that contribute to a team or company will be treasured, and those that become liabilities will eventually have to go. Training is required for many roles in our lives, whether you’re a soccer player or a businessman.
In the same way, in order to shine for Christ, we have to live our roles in society effectively, and an important element in that is in a person’s character and discipline. We have to set certain patterns in our lives. Instead of giving in to the tendency of staying in bed, we have to discipline ourselves to get to work early, and instead of slacking off in our calling, we have to develop a daily schedule, devotional and otherwise, and be persistent in it. We have to die to ourselves daily, and this requires being trained from a young stage in life.
Discipline Imparts Wisdom
Discipline also imparts wisdom (Proverbs 29:15,17). As Christians, we are given certain roles and responsibilities, but everyday there are spiritual battles to be fought. How are we to withstand these trials if we are not trained and disciplined from a young age into knowing the values of God? Hosea 4:6 tells us that God’s people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.
Good discipline does not just impart manners on the surface but go deeper into the values of Christ. It teaches Christians to discern what is from God and what is not. It trains us to take our Christian lives seriously and to follow the Godly values as a matter of course. The family must be Christ-centered, and it is very important to develop ways of efficient and Godly communication. Discipline levels everyone regardless of position.
Discipline is not an easy topic, but we need to take encouragement from the fact that God always metes out the correct measure of discipline. God’s discipline is always for the purpose of helping and teaching and not to hurt. He deals with the act and is careful about injustice. He does not overly use force, but is always wise with His discipline. He exercises His authority and does not threaten but gives warning, and He keeps the word of His warning.
In the same way, those of us in positions of authority must follow His example and His principles. We must be accountable even in our discipline, and be careful of injustice that could easily lead to abuse. Very importantly, each time we discipline, we must make it a point that those being disciplined knows the purpose of the discipline.
References for pictures