If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Hebrews 12, verse 8.
Yesterday we talked a bit about discipline, and how discipline is done through both tough words but also mentoring, listening, and a number of other positive but strict behaviors. That’s the “what,” maybe even the “how.” Today we get “why.”
If you aren’t disciplined, then you’re a bastard. Know that I use that word here for effect, not as profanity. A bastard is “a person born of unmarried parents; an illegitimate child; spurious; not genuine; false.” That’s from dictionary.com. If you aren’t disciplined, you’re fake and illegitimate. Your birth is beyond your control, but claiming a birthright that isn’t yours isn’t. You have no right to be an heir to what’s good. Taking it a step further, if you don’t allow yourself to be disciplined by God – made a mentored disciple – then you’re that fake, that illegitimate false person.
That’s rough. You could use the slang of that word to describe it; you might even describe me with said word. Fair enough. I’ll throw down another hard truth: this isn’t teaching for lightweights, for the weak of mind. This is serious business. I think of myself as a serious man. Sure, I’m lighthearted, joking, and I try to get along with most folks. But that’s the method brought about from within. If you strip away everything I think or believe, at the very core of it you’ll find I seriously believe in Jesus and I take that belief seriously. It’s the bedrock of my existence. I take it seriously because it merits serious investment of the heart. Faith in Jesus is a matter of life and death. Embrace the faith and live; reject the faith and die. It really is that simple. I want to live, so I take it seriously.
That matters because our opponent does too. Jesus cautions us through His close friend, Peter to “be self controlled and alert” because our “enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” Those are powerful words, figurative in language yet packed with realistic power and warning. The devil, a very real bastard, is a miserable demon. He’s false. He isn’t heir to anything. He covets endlessly, destructively, viciously. He wants company, and he uses every means at his disposal to lure in followers. I don’t know what they see in him; perhaps none of us does. Jesus called him the father of lies and Peter cautions that he’s mortally dangerous.
If you want to stand against a dangerous foe, you need discipline. You need to be trained up in the ways of doing so. Most of all, you need something to believe in when the foe attacks and knocks you back hard. You can’t be false; your belief must be legitimate, honest, firm. Jesus can give you that truth, that legitimacy, that honesty, firmness, and genuine quality that you need to stand fast. When He gives it to you, He’s disciplining you as His brother, sister, son, and daughter. Faith takes courage; faith requires steel in your spine. Growing in faith is serious business, even as He honestly says that His “yoke is easy and burden is light.” Jesus knows that and knows it can be tough. When He disciplines us, it’s like He is drawing us closer to Himself as family. That makes us bona fide, legitimate.
Am I disciplined? In some ways, yes; in others I’m very much a work in progress. Some folks might call me a bastard, though, and many of them wouldn’t use it as a compliment. They may have a point. If you want to not be called such things, then retool your life in such a way as to make those words inappropriate when used to describe you. Why? Because Jesus makes you His own. He was serious enough about believing that that He willfully bled and died for you. That’s serious. After all, in Jesus there are no bastards.
For further reading: John 8:44, Matthew 11:30, 1 Peter 5:9.
Lord, holding on to You can be tough, but You have made me legitimate. Thank You for loving me that much.