If We are Humble Enough to Listen…

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“At the time, all discipline seems a cause not for joy but for pain, yet later it brings the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who are trained by it” (Hebrews 12:11). Ah, discipline! We do not like the word, or the experience, neither as children, nor as adults. But discipline is not our enemy. Rather, if we are humble enough to listen and to learn from it, it is our best friend.

The letter to the Hebrews is directed to Jewish converts to Christianity. They are steeped in the knowledge of the Torah and the prophets. They know the stories of what we call the Old Testament, but they are being told here that their new, Christian life is to be inspired not only by the Old Testament men and women of faith but, above all, by Jesus. As the architect of Christian faith, he gave us a model to follow in that he endured the cross before receiving the glory of his triumph. Therefore, we are encouraged to reflect on his sufferings in order to find the encouragement to endure our own struggles, even if they lead to the shedding of our own blood. We Christians are to regard our own sufferings as the affectionate correction of the Lord, who loves us as a father loves his children.

Still, because of our egos, we are often rebellious. We live at a time, and in a society, that has come to believe that the individual is the sole arbiter of what is right and wrong, good or bad, for him or her. All authority is questioned, not because it is right or wrong, but simply because the post-modern ego will accept no authority but its own. It sees discipline simply as a threat to one’s freedom. This is because the ego sees freedom as an absolute, divorced from, and without any recognition of, personal responsibility. This is the blindness of pride, of course. And pride, as we know, is the source of all the other deadly sins.

It is only in humble submission to the will of God, that we are able to see the wisdom and the justice of our deserved discipline. It is only when we recognize our guilt, and the consequences of our actions due to their affect on others, or ourselves, that we begin to see the wisdom of the disciplines that come our way. Yes, discipline is suffering, but if we see its reasons, and accept our own responsibilities, we can learn its lessons. We can be “trained by it.” The reward of this humble acceptance of discipline is maturity of character and, ultimately, the peace and happiness our hearts truly desire. We learn to leave the paths of rebellion and to enter the path of righteousness. This, then, is the source of our peace.

Lord, Help us to learn the wisdom of humility in all things. Strengthen us in our efforts to accept our sufferings as the necessary disciplines of our struggle to become your good and faithful disciples in this life. We pray, as always, in you name, Jesus. Amen!

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Dan Doyle is a husband, father, grandfather, Vietnam veteran, and retired professor of Humanities at Seattle University. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology, and writes regularly for The Veterans Site Blog.