Trained by Discipline for Yielding Fruit
THE Christian minister might be likened to a farmer that has two kinds of crops to grow. One of these is the fruitage of the spirit, mentioned at Galatians 5:22, 23, and the other is Kingdom fruitage, referred to by our Lord Jesus in his parable of the sower, as recorded at Matthew 13:18-23.
Because of this he should be interested in discipline, for without discipline he cannot bear these fruits. As we read: “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. 12:11.a
What is discipline? Many think of discipline only in terms of punishment, but this is not necessarily so. Discipline may or may not involve punishment, even as punishment may or may not be discipline. For example: The Scriptures tell us that all the wicked Jehovah will destroy. That is punishment, but it is not discipline.—Ps. 145:20.
The basic thought of discipline is education, training, instruction. It means control, for it involves rules and regulations, and the enforcing of obedience so as to realize the objective of the discipline. Discipline can be relatively mild or relatively severe. Discipline in school is relatively mild for the studious, well-behaved child, who, nevertheless, is under discipline. But it is comparatively severe for the lazy and self-willed child. To ‘train up a boy in the way for him’ means to discipline him.—Prov. 22:6.
Discipline comes to us in various ways. The Word of God is “beneficial . . . for disciplining in righteousness.” If we read it carefully and with understanding and make a diligent effort to apply it to our lives, then it will indeed discipline us. The same is true of the literature that helps us to understand the Bible and how to apply its principles in our lives in these modern times.—2 Tim. 3:16, 17.
Self-discipline not only aids us in bearing fruit but also results in giving us self-respect. Self-indulgence, however, results not only in the loss of self-respect but also in frustration, for the more one indulges himself the more he wants to indulge, and in the end he pays for it in misery and death.
Certain ones, such as schoolteachers, have the obligation to discipline others. Parents, and fathers in particular, are required to discipline their children, to “go on bringing them up in the discipline and authoritative advice of Jehovah.” Christian overseers in the congregation have the responsibility to discipline its members, to “reprove, reprimand, exhort, with all long-suffering and art of teaching.”—Eph. 6:4; 2 Tim. 4:2.
Discipline can also come from a kind remark of a fellow Christian, made either casually or purposefully: “Anyone shunning discipline is rejecting his own soul, but the one listening to reproof is acquiring heart,” that is, good motive. And especially does discipline come from “the faithful and discreet slave,” which is directing the earthly interests of God’s kingdom. Readily and voluntarily responding to discipline is a splendid form of self-discipline and results in self-respect.—Prov. 15:32; Matt. 24:45-47.
Among the ways we can respond voluntarily to such discipline is by attending the five “disciplinary,” instructive or educational meetings that are provided for dedicated ministers and then engaging in the Christian ministry to the extent that our time permits. Could you, by practicing a little more self-discipline, enjoy the full-time preaching work? If so, then by all means exercise that needed self-discipline.
In considering discipline coming from others we never want to overlook the fact that discipline is an expression of love and affection, even as it is on the part of Jehovah God and Jesus Christ: “Whom Jehovah loves he disciplines; in fact, he scourges every one whom he receives as a son.” “All those for whom I [Jesus Christ] have affection I reprove and discipline.”—Heb. 12:6; Rev. 3:19.
If we permit ourselves to be trained by discipline we will be able to produce the fruitage of the spirit, namely, “love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, mildness, self-control.” Thereby we will be advancing toward maturity. Then we will also be able to bear more Kingdom fruitage, ‘thirty-, sixty-and a hundredfold,’ because training by discipline improves our knowledge and ability to preach. Happy, therefore, are all those trained by discipline for bearing fruit!—Gal. 5:22, 23; Matt. 13:23.
a For details see The Watchtower, May 15, 1963.