Celebration of Father’s day!
In the Bible, book of Hebrews 12:5-13 says, “5 And have you forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you as his children? He said,My child, don’t make light of the Lord’s discipline, and don’t give up when He corrects you. 6 For the Lord disciplines those He loves, and He punishes each one He accepts as His child.”7 As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as His own children. Who ever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father? 8 If God doesn’t discipline you as He does all of His children, it means that you are illegitimate and are not really His children at all. 9 Since we respected our earthly fathers who disciplined us, shouldn’t we submit even more to the discipline of the Father of our spirits, and live forever? 10 For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in His holiness. 11 No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening – it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way. 12 So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. 13 Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong.”
The analogy between human fathers and the heavenly Father figures often in our Lord Jesus’ teachings (see Matthew 7:9-11; 21:28-31; Luke 15:11-32). Here earthly fathers are compared to our heavenly Father. Verses 7-8 describe the value of discipline and assert that all of God’s children will endure discipline; verses 9-10 teach the parallel between God’s discipline and earthly parental discipline. All people (or at least the vast majority) had human fathers who disciplined them. Rarely did that discipline occur out of cruelty; instead, loving fathers would discipline with the children’s best interests in mind. As a result, they have our respect.
If we respected the discipline of our earthly parents, should we not all the more cheerfully submit to the discipline of our Father in heaven? Submission to God’s discipline means not trying to wriggle out of it by making excuses or hardening our hearts; instead, it means allowing the discipline to drive us to our knees before God so that He can teach us the lessons He has for us. When we have this attitude toward God’s discipline, we will live forever – referring to our ability to truly enjoy this life and to look forward to eternity with God.
Earthly fathers are imperfect. Sometimes they discipline when they shouldn’t or in the wrong way, and sometimes they fail to discipline when they should. But most of them did the best they knew how for the few years during which they had responsibility for us. Their effort reminds us of the perfection of God’s discipline – it is always right and good for us (Romans 8:28-29; 1 Corinthians 10:13). God’s discipline also means that we will share in His holiness. Discipline may not be enjoyed, but it brings great reward. Sharing in holiness refers to our growth. God’s discipline helps Christians become more and more like Jesus Christ, mature and complete (see Matthew 5:48; 1 John 3:2).
While no discipline is enjoyable while it is happening, Christians can respond to it by remembering the end result of the discipline. Certainly discipline is painful; if it weren’t, it would have little effect in combating sin or changing us from within. The result of discipline, however, makes the pain worthwhile: a quiet harvest of right living. When discipline cleans up sin in our lives, it moves us on the pathway toward righteousness and holiness. The promised peace refers both to an inward tranquility and contentment (Philippians 4:11-12; James 1:4) in any circumstance (Philippians 4:6-7).
This passage vividly pictures God as a challenging coach who pushes us to our limits, encouraging us beyond what we think we can attain. Tired hands want to stop working. The Christians were at the point of sheer exhaustion; morale was low. Rather than concede defeat, Born-Again Christians must take a new grip to make the effort and always be ready to endure. Discipline or persecution should not cause Christians to fear; instead, difficult times especially this pandemic COVID-19, should encourage them to endure. Rather than dropping in defeat, Christians should stand firm – even when knees are weak and legs are shaky – in their confident expectation of Christ’s return (see Hebrews 10:37).
Most “paths” encountered in nature wind and dip along with the terrain. A straight path, however, has most likely been constructed by someone who took the effort to move the rocks, level out the holes, and even clear away little pebbles that would be hard on one’s feet. This picture of making a straight path ties in with the “righteousness” (Hebrews 12:11) that results in the life of a person who has faced discipline and has worked to remove any stumbling blocks that would impede progress. Hard work obviously helps, but it has another benefit for those who follow behind. Some who follow may indeed be weak and lame. We can help them not to stumble and fall by encouraging them and working hard to remove the obstacles that may be in the path.
As said throughout this epistle, Born-Again Christians have the responsibility to encourage one another and to help those who are weak. If the original readers were contemplating a return to Jewish practices, their example would prove discouraging to new Christians. Instead of running in a straight, clear path, they would be adding hindrances and obstacles to the already difficult trip. Born-Again Christian believers must not live with only survival in mind – others will follow their example. Amen!
In the Bible, the book of Matthew 23:9 says, “And don’t address anyone here on earth as ‘Father,’ for only God in heaven is your spiritual Father.”
Don’t address anyone here on earth as Father does not mean that we cannot use the word for a parent. Again, our Lord Jesus Christ was speaking in the context of the rabbi and disciple relationship. Disciples would call their rabbi “father,” and the relationship could be compared to that between a father and son.
Proverbs 23:24-25 says, “The father of godly children has cause for joy. What a pleasure to have children who are wise. 25 So give your father and mother joy! May she who gave you birth be happy.”