The prophet Jeremiah prays: “Discipline me, LORD, but only in due measure– not in your anger, or you will reduce me to nothing.” (Jer 10:24 NIV) And the writer to the Hebrews explains: “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.” (Heb 12:11 NIV)
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you + now and always +
Dear friends of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ: These readings are about divine discipline. It is clear, that as sinners we merit not pardon, but have deserved the harshest punishment. It would be fair for God to cast us out from his presence and let us go to hell. That would be right and just. Thankfully the living God Father, Son and Holy Spirit has from the beginning overruled this righteous judgement over humanity – men and women folk alike – with his mercy and goodness. Instead of punishing us as we deserve, he has allowed magnanimity and generosity to carry the day. Adam and Eve were banished from paradise, yes, but they were allowed to live. God even clothed them and gave them the promise of the coming deliverer, the Messiah, who would crush the serpent and return God’s people to his peace, gracious favour and godly presence.
This history of God dealing kindly and forgivingly with his disobedient and rebellious children and people, encourages the prophet to plead to God not to deal with us according to our iniquities and not to give us the rightful measure in response to our opposition and godless ways. Wrathful anger would suit us well. Reducing us to nothing would be well deserved. Yet dealing with us by his own godly measure, he does not give us our rightful dues, rather forgives, saves and ultimately heals and restores.
That does not exclude fatherly discipline and tutorial measures from God’s wise and knowing ways. Of course he will lead and guide us through his disciplinary measures to draw us closer to himself and to push all else far from us – especially those things that come between him and us. God removes those and sometimes that’s exactly what hurts, angers and disturbs us. Yet God knows what is best for us and he does that unflinchingly and unfailingly too, because in the end he strives for those things that are good, meet and salutary for us and our salvation.
The writer to the Hebrews acknowledges: “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.” (Heb 12:11 NIV) That is why we should not reject God’s ways with us, but rather accept them willingly just like Job did, who said: “Have we not received good from God in good times and should we not receive the bad from him also?” Especially if we hear and believe, that even the painful discipline is ultimately training, which finally “produces a harvest of righteousness and peace”? It is, what St. Paul summarizes before he enters the big doxology: All things – even the painful ones – serve to our best and nothing can separate us from the love of God, which conquers all and let’s us triumph in the end by his gracious deliverance and faithful goodness, which endures forever. Praise, glory and honour be to him our Lord God and saviour now and in eternity. Amen.
The peace of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ be with you always + Amen.