Do You Belittle Discipline?
“Do not belittle the discipline from Jehovah.”—Heb. 12:5.
1. (a) What may be said as to facing issues? (b) How does discipline become an issue? (c) Should and does religion discipline?
ARE you the kind of person that can face an issue squarely and accept the consequences of the decision you make? It is good to be able to do so. Can you do so in regard to the issue of discipline? Many persons really feel that discipline is an issue because they deplore its scarcity. Do you agree with them that more discipline is needed? Do you appreciate discipline; that is, do you value it highly and do you profit from it? How about your religion in this respect? Does your religion discipline you? Has it brought good results to you through discipline? If you feel it has, can you mention specific benefits? You certainly can, if your religion is the worship of Jehovah God.
2. To what extent should we esteem discipline?
2 Even as we should have appreciation for Jehovah himself, his love, our very life in fact, so we should highly esteem and earnestly desire discipline. Especially is it not to be belittled when it comes from God, as the text above cautions. This becomes apparent when we observe how desirable are the elements included in discipline from Jehovah.
3. What is discipline, and how should it affect us?
3 Discipline is training to act in accordance with rules. The purpose is to correct us as needed. It should mold us so that we will conform to Jehovah’s requirements. The training of discipline is to strengthen. It really does make us strong by strengthening, correcting and molding our faculties.
4. What may discipline sometimes mean?
4 Discipline sometimes means punishment of the one being disciplined. This might be self-administered chastisement. It can also be from a theocratic authority bringing retribution for an offense. The purpose is to correct error and also to prevent a repetition of offense against Jehovah’s requirements.
5. How is control involved in discipline?
5 Discipline means control. This is a result of enforcing obedience and order so that the individuals and the group involved will be effective in their objective. In the case of true Christians the objective is the worship of Jehovah God in conformity with his will and requirements. Disciplined control includes self-control, which is a quality of orderliness; it includes orderly conduct by self-discipline, requiring oneself to conform to Jehovah’s requirements.
6. Should “discipline from Jehovah” be belittled?
6 An interesting point: The discipline of the Christian congregation includes its rules and regulations that are based upon the principles and commandments of God’s Word the Bible, and that are therefore practical, dependable and for our benefit. In fact, all of God’s discipline is for our benefit. As you now recognize the fine elements of discipline, are you inclined to “belittle the discipline from Jehovah”? We hope not, for your own good, for the good of others and for the praise of God.
7. Spurning discipline would mean spurning what else?
7 Truthfully, it must be observed that discipline is offensive to many. In the case of some this may be in part because such persons do not have the Bible viewpoint of discipline and have not appreciated its necessity and benefits. But do you know that discipline is an expression of your being loved by the great Creator, Jehovah God? That is true. So let us ask, Would you rather be disciplined and be loved by God or be undisciplined and unloved by God? Can you be loved by God and not be disciplined by him? No, that is not possible. Observe further this statement, at Hebrews: “My son, do not belittle the discipline from Jehovah, neither give out when you are corrected by him.” Why? “For whom Jehovah loves he disciplines; in fact, he scourges every one whom he receives as a son.” (Heb. 12:5, 6) Not only is discipline an evidence of the love of the Father, Jehovah, but also of the love of Christ Jesus as shown by the words of the Son: “All those for whom I have affection I reprove and discipline. Therefore be zealous and repent.” (Rev. 3:19) Spurning such discipline would mean spurning such love.
8. For what is discipline essential, as pointed out in Hebrews 12:7-11?
8 Not only that, but this evidence of the love of God, discipline, is essential for life and for the proper Christian fruitage to be produced. The writer of Hebrews continues: “It is for discipline you are enduring. God is dealing with you as with sons. For what son is he that a father does not discipline? But if you are without the discipline of which all have become partakers, you are really illegitimate children, and not sons. Furthermore, we used to have fathers who were of our flesh to discipline us, and we used to give them respect. Shall we not much more subject ourselves to the Father of our spiritual life and live? For they for a few days used to discipline us according to what seemed good to them, but he does so for our profit that we may partake of his holiness. True, no discipline seems for the present to be joyous, but grievous; yet afterward to those who have been trained by it it yields peaceable fruit, namely, righteousness.”—Heb. 12:7-11.
A GREAT CONTRAST
9. (a) Why is discipline’s righteous fruitage unfamiliar to many persons? (b) How satisfying is self-indulgence?
9 That fine fruit of righteousness is completely unfamiliar to many persons. Why? Due to their undisciplined pursuits. One of the most widespread pursuits among all mankind is also the most unsatisfactory. It is something that a selfish person feels would bring great satisfaction, but it does not. What might this be? This pursuit is self-indulgence. Self-indulgence is completely unsatisfactory and unsatisfying. This is not hard to see. If it should be that you pursue self-indulgence, you know you are not satisfied. Real satisfaction is not enjoyed by your acquaintances who selfishly plunge into self-indulgence, because they always want more. Do you realize that this self-indulgence is part of the scarring mark of these critical days, even as prophesied? “In the last days critical times hard to deal with will be here. For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, self-assuming, . . . without self-control, . . . puffed up with pride, lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God . . . ; and from these turn away.” (2 Tim. 3:1-5) Certainly “from these turn away”! Turn away from such undisciplined persons. Turn away from undisciplined practices and be disciplined.
10. (a) What scars these critical times? (b) Show the difference between selfish pride and self-respect.
10 Look at the self-indulgent. Observe such self-indulgent people whose prevalence scars these critical times, adding to their criticalness: people selfish, depraved, degenerate, diseased in mind and body, stumbling along in shortsighted self-seeking, unable to see the glories of Jehovah God and of his new world of righteousness and having no respect for such, having not even self-respect. Arrogance and selfish pride they may have, but no self-respect, because there is no discipline. Do you have sufficient self-respect to value discipline? There is proper, Scriptural self-respect, and a person who has it will appreciate discipline. Not so the self-indulgent.
11. Like Timothy, however, you may be what in contrast?
11 In marked contrast with that, however, is the succeeding counsel of the apostle to Timothy: “You, however, continue in the things that you learned and were persuaded to believe . . . you have known the holy writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation . . . All Scripture is inspired of God and beneficial for teaching, for reproving, for setting things straight, for disciplining in righteousness, that the man of God may be fully competent, completely equipped for every good work.”—2 Tim. 3:14-17.
12. How fine is such contrast?
12 How fine is such inspired guidance, disciplining in what is right and in harmony with Jehovah God, teaching the truth, reproving the error, setting straight things that need to be changed, so that the one who loves righteousness and loves God may experience the good results of theocratic discipline!
13. The Scriptures force what realization?
13 So we must by force of the Scriptures conclude and realize that discipline is an essential for life in God’s new world. It is an essential for the worship of the true God, Jehovah, now and in the future.
DISCIPLINE’S MANY FORMS
14. In what forms may discipline come?
14 Discipline can be relatively mild and it can be relatively severe. In any case, discipline from Jehovah is for the good of all concerned. It can come to us as training and, if not accepted, may come eventually as punishment.
15. Explain training by God’s Word.
15 One way that discipline does come to us is in the form of training by the Word of God. “A son is wise where there is a father’s discipline, but the ridiculer is one that has not listened to rebuke.” (Prov. 13:1) So when the Word of God directs us in the way to go and we respond and are guided and molded and trained by it, it disciplines us, and we receive the discipline to our advantage. That is the wise course and is in contrast to what certainly is a ridiculous course, that of ridiculing the Father’s discipline and rebuke. In respect to the discipline of God’s Word, a ridiculer makes himself ridiculous. It is impossible for such one to prove Jehovah’s discipline to be wrong. Jehovah has never been wrong and never shall be.
16. (a) Mild discipline takes what other form? (b) How effective may it be?
16 Another mild yet effective form of discipline can and does come to us in a kind remark from a fellow Christian who is looking after our welfare and who desires to help us and puts forth the effort to do so. We are wise in profiting from such remarks. “The ear that is listening to the reproof of life lodges right in among wise people.” (Prov. 15:31) Such helpful truth kindly stated by a companion or associate or even a loving Christian stranger would be, in fact, not of his own origin, but would be from the great Source of truth, because it is in harmony with the Word of truth. Such we should properly accept as loving counsel and assistance from Jehovah God. How it can help our thinking, improve our point of view, aid us in understanding right doctrine and principle! The speaker of such “reproof of life” may not understand the great effect the word spoken may have upon the hearer and yet, if the hearer recognizes such to be true, conforms to what he learns, changes as may be necessary to come into harmony with the Word of God, does not allow preconceived ideas nor prejudice nor contrary religious beliefs to interfere with his being molded by the truth, it will all be of benefit to him. How valuable such mild, kind discipline!
17. Proper responsiveness involves what form of discipline?
17 Responsiveness to what is learned is a splendid form of self-discipline, by applying what is found to be right, making proper use of the information received. “A lover of discipline is a lover of knowledge, but a hater of reproof is unreasoning.” (Prov. 12:1) Self-discipline strengthens self-respect because of our doing what is right voluntarily and with assurance that such is pleasing to Jehovah. How unreasonable men are when they decline such self-discipline!—Jas. 4:16, 17.
18. Through what does counsel also come?
18 Discipline (training, molding and help) comes to us in the form of counsel through this magazine, The Watchtower. Therein we learn principles of Jehovah and their application in the affairs of life and we are enabled to conform; and so the published truths are provisions of Jehovah for our benefit and from them we can profit greatly.
19. What are sure results of violation of God’s laws?
19 Certain it is that when we violate God’s laws we do get hurt. We are injured. If we refuse to be disciplined, not listening to the rebuke we need for correction, it may become necessary for sanctions to be imposed. All forms of willful, sinful rebellion against Jehovah God and his laws and requirements must be accounted for. Some persons simply will not learn from mild discipline, and therefore more rigorous discipline must be administered, sometimes even to the point of disfellowshiping—indeed a severe chastising from Jehovah. Disfellowshiping, expulsion from the Christian congregation because of willful violation of God’s laws governing Christians, will have a good effect upon all concerned and also upon all observing if all of such are properly responsive thereto. In such a circumstance, any attachments to the disfellowshiped person, whether these be ties of personal friendship, blood relation or otherwise, must take second place to the theocratic disciplinary action that has been taken. This is so in order that anyone who was previously close to the disfellowshiped person will not himself be hating the reproof that has been administered to the disfellowshiped one, but will also be disciplined in his attitude and conduct.
DISCIPLINE’S MANY BENEFITS
20. As to faults, what are discipline’s benefits?
20 In the very definition of the word the good results and benefits of discipline are seen, and many of these have been mentioned. It is observed that discipline brings the benefit of correction of our faults. Faults we have in abundance and we therefore need correction and are benefited by it. Thereby we are molded, not in conformity to old-world standards and practices, which are contrary to God’s Word, but, rather, theocratically, in harmony with the will of God.
21. As to strength, what are discipline’s benefits?
21 Discipline strengthens us. When one stands up for right principles and takes the proper course of action in spite of its being contrary to self-indulgence, he becomes stronger spiritually and is strengthened to go right ahead in Jehovah’s service. “Peaceable fruit, namely, righteousness” is yielded in that it strengthens one to endure suffering for righteousness, this effect making for steadfastness.
22. The congregation, individuals therein and countless other persons all benefit in what ways from discipline?
22 As far as the congregation of God’s servants is concerned, discipline is of the greatest benefit. It gains order in the congregation and for the congregation; it keeps the congregation as such in the right way as well as keeping the individuals therein following the course that brings God’s approval. This enables the congregation to continue to be used by Jehovah God in the proclamation of the good news of his Kingdom and in the expansion of his pure worship to his praise and to the blessing of countless other persons to whom Bible truths are carried.
23. Under severe discipline, what choice may be made, and what scriptures apply?
23 Reproof, which is part of discipline, is beneficial because it is given with a view to our salvation. For example, if a disfellowshiped person is really ashamed, if he really repents and changes his course of action, thus responding to discipline administered, he may in time be reinstated in the congregation of God’s people. “However, when we are judged, we are disciplined by Jehovah, that we may not become condemned with the world.” (1 Cor. 11:32) How about a person to whom is administered the severe disciplining of Scriptural disfellowshiping and who refuses to be ashamed, repent and turn around? He demonstrates that he hates reproof. Therefore Proverbs 15:10 has application: “Discipline is bad to the one leaving the path; anyone hating reproof will die.”
DISCIPLINE EVERY STEP OF THE WAY
24. How far along the way to life is discipline needed?
24 With our acceptance of God’s Word we must observe and agree that for Christians discipline cannot be avoided. Furthermore, we do not want to avoid Jehovah’s discipline; we do not wish to be undisciplined. We remember that discipline from Jehovah is a mark of the Christian congregation and, as such, it is a proof of Jehovah’s love for his little ones. Jehovah is long-suffering, and that is for our benefit because it results to us in an opportunity to come to know and serve him. However, Jehovah definitely does and will discipline. Discipline therefore should be with us every step we take on our way to maturity and to life. We would have it no other way.
25. (a) The New World society assists by what provisions? (b) Relate the Bible to the determination to be made on problems of life. (c) What is the proper attitude toward the Bible and toward the New World society?
25 In our progress toward maturity of understanding and conduct in harmony with Jehovah’s Word, we are assisted by the invaluable disciplinary provisions of the New World society. The Bible contains commandments of God, his prophecies, and the revelation of himself and of his principles. Such are a guide for the New World society and all who are in it. So it is that by the New World society’s application of the stated Scriptural commands, examples, rules and principles to the issues and problems of life, a great body of theocratic law is being built up. We should benefit by this. It is theocratic because it is in harmony with the Bible law of the Great Theocrat, Jehovah God, and is based upon it. We need to understand Jehovah’s Bible and also respect the judgment, authority and instructions of the New World society. They will discipline us, guiding us in all the issues and problems of life to take a course that will be in accordance with and not in violation of the Word of God.
26. Who are subjects for discipline?
26 With understanding and considerable satisfaction adults frequently observe the fact that children are subjects for discipline. “You, fathers, do not be irritating your children, but go on bringing them up in the discipline and authoritative advice of Jehovah.”—Eph. 6:4.
27. (a) Who else are subjects for discipline? (b) What must adults learn? (c) Being disciplined is an evidence of what?
27 However, we must realize that responsible adults are also subjects for discipline. There are things that adults must learn. They must learn to discipline their children. They must learn to put away jealousy, oversensitiveness, willful misbehavior, abusive speech, resentment, immorality, disrespect, pride, anger, uncleanness. Adults must early learn about Christian neutrality. So it is that discipline enters into the entire adult Christian life. Its possession is an evidence of desired maturity and of sober-mindedness.
28. (a) What persons among Jehovah’s servants are especially noted here? (b) What are their privileges and needs?
28 There are persons among those who are making progress on the way to maturity and life in the worship of Jehovah God who are prominent. These include various overseers throughout the theocratic New World society. It frequently is their duty to administer loving discipline in behalf of their brothers and fellow servants of God. Must these prominent ones also receive discipline? Yes. They should desire such. They have not outgrown discipline. They are not too big for it. Such share the needs that all others have, needs for constant instruction in God’s Word and constantly checking their course of action, being disciplined by all the provisions through the New World society.
29. What should prominent ones realize and appreciate?
29 They need to realize that not only do they put up with their brothers in love but their brothers put up with them in love. Some overseers and prominent ones have been in their positions of great privileges of service over many years, and so over a long period of time they have worked with and for their brothers, and their fellows have worked in cooperation with them. How grateful these overseers should be that over the years others have overlooked their own imperfections and failings and out of love for Jehovah God and his Kingdom interests have continued and still continue cooperating with them! Yes, prominent ones require discipline too and should receive it with gratitude and appreciation.
30, 31. Therefore, who should accept discipline, and with what results?
30 Discipline, then, is not to be laughed at or shunned. Its objective is the advancement of Jehovah’s worship. It results in steadfastness in Christian ministry. It enables one to hold his place in Jehovah’s work and worship. Its objective also is life for those who receive Jehovah’s discipline. No one, therefore, regardless of the position that he may hold in Jehovah’s organization, should belittle or scoff at discipline. “The discipline of Jehovah, O my son, do not reject; and do not abhor his reproof, because the one whom Jehovah loves he reproves, even as a father does a son in whom he finds pleasure.”—Prov. 3:11, 12.
31 In the next article we review some facts of procedure and conduct on the part of Jehovah’s witnesses earthwide that identify them as truly ‘disciplined in righteousness’ and that we feel will be appreciated by all who properly evaluate discipline.