The author of Hebrews has talked about how love is the motive for discipline and quotes from Proverbs. This truth is one of the more ancient truths in the world. Only diligent parents with regards to child training truly love their children. It’s the easiest thing to let our children do whatever they want, whenever they want. We’ve all seen four-year-old Jeffrey running around loose in the grocery store or on an airplane with no parental controls at all. He disrupts the world around him because everything is totally about him. Undisciplined children are a burden to everyone and although it might seem cute in a four-year-old, it’s criminal in adults. Parents are responsible to teach children how to manage their emotions and behavior for the good of the groups they are in. God, as our perfect heavenly Father, only wants what is absolutely the best thing for us. And this desire is motivated by His love for His children. Hebrews 12:7 says, “It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?”

When God brought the children of Israel out of Egypt and led them to the promised land, they underwent much discipline. God the Father wanted them to truly enjoy the benefits of the land He had prepared for them and much of the ability to enjoy life in the land involved recognition of God’s love for them as His children. In Deuteronomy 8:5, the idea of the fatherhood of God and His love for his children as the motive for discipline is already a biblical doctrine. It says, “Know then in your heart that, as a man disciplines his son, the LORD your God disciplines you.” One of the older commentators says, “In this he acts as becomes a father, and treats them like children; no wise and good father will wink at faults in his own children as he would in others; his relation and his affections oblige him to take more notice of the faults of his own children than those of others. (4.) To be suffered to go on in sin without a rebuke is a sad sign of alienation from God; such are bastards, not sons.” [1] This is where the writer goes in the next verse. Hebrews 12:8 says, “If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.”

Pentecost says, “Rather than despising His chastening or being discouraged when sufferings come, they should welcome them as assurance that they are the sons of God, for God will chasten only those who are His own children.”[2] William MacDonald adds, “After all, a gardener does not prune thistles, but he does prune grapevines. As in the natural, so in the spiritual.”[3] Further, it’s not that all hardships are the result of sin in our lives, but rather that all hardships, even undeserved trials, will have a good result in the end. Job teaches us this. Jesus said as much when the disciples pointed out the crippled man and asked Jesus if it was because of his own sin or the sins of his parents that he was crippled. Jesus replied that it was neither of those reasons, but it was for the Glory of God. Then he healed the man. It’s all a matter of trusting God! Faith is believing that God has our best interest foremost in mind regardless of the circumstance and that He works all things in our lives “together for good” (Romans 8:28).

[1] Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1994), 2404.

[2] J. Dwight Pentecost and Ken Durham, Faith That Endures : A Practical Commentary on the Book of Hebrews, Rev. ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2000), 203.

[3] William MacDonald, Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments, ed. Arthur Farstad (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1995), 2203.