Pentecost 14, 2016
“Disciplined…out of love”
Grace, mercy, and peace be to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
What is your response when I ask you…“who loves you? ” What qualities do those who love you possess? There are all kinds of responses. My cat loves me…she purrs for me, jumps up and naps on my lap…and can’t stand any visitors. She is loyal to me. My wife loves me. She helps me where I fall short, she encourages me, she puts up with all my faults…who else would do that other than someone that loves suffering…I mean…loves me! My parents love me…they took care of me since birth, they put a roof over my head, food on the plate, gave me clothes, helped me with homework, gave me things I wanted, supported me through school, still love and support me to this day. That’s a pretty good list…right? Certainly it isn’t everything…and it doesn’t even include friends, siblings, grandparents or other family or friends…but it’s a good start.
There is however a very important detail…quality…that I missed. It is a quality that we don’t like to mention as being done out of love…it’s the quality of discipline. Do any of you like to be disciplined? Did you like being told No…or your wrong? Did you like being punished? Of course not. None of us like being wrong or being punished. So why on earth would we call that a good quality? A quality of love?
I can’t remember exactly how old I was…at most I was 7 years old. We were over at my grandparent’s apartment visiting. I don’t remember what my Dad said…but I thought he said to my mom that he was going to spank me. I went and hid under my grandparent’s bed. I moved a few things they stored there and hid in the middle. Nobody knew where I was. My sister Mary came looking and even jumped on the bed over and over again…but I didn’t make a sound. Although I didn’t know it…they were very worried that I had wandered off into s small forest nearby…or went to the park…or worse. My oldest siblings and parents spread out looking for me. The police were called. And still I hid in fear of getting a spanking. Finally I came out of my grandparent’s room to their surprise. They were angry!!! They made me explain to the police officer what I had done. The rest of the family came back relieved…mad…disappointed..and joyful. I can’t remember being punished…but I can remember how my parents held me after knowing I was safe. I had feared punishment. Yet now I know how much my parents truly loved and continue to love me.
Whether or not my Dad was going to spank me…punish me…he loved me. Even as parents punish their children…it is still done out of love. Discipline out of love. Listen to our Epistle text: “And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”
It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:5-11)
Do you remember all of the names listed from our Epistle lesson last week? Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Esau, Joseph, Moses, and Rahab. They were all commended for their faith! And yet each one of them was a poor miserable sinner. Each one of them sinned against God. Moses wasn’t allowed to enter the promised land, Rahab was a prostitute, Jacob stole his brother’s inheritance, Esau gave up his right for some food. Each one of them were chastised and punished by God. Each one of them died because of their sin. Yet God loved them. Just because they sinned doesn't mean they didn't have faith. Just because they were punished in this life doesn't mean they weren't saved. God called them His own. God welcomed them home to heaven.
God loves each of you. Does God discipline and chastise us like He did to the saints of old. You bet! He calls our sins evil and wicked, He punishes us…often by means of an earthly authority…He allows us to suffer from our mistakes. Yet all the while He loves us. For in the waters of Holy Baptism He has called each of you by name as His own. As Isaiah proclaimed: “But now thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.” (Isaiah 43:1)
You are His own. Yes, God disciplines…and it doesn’t feel good. But God disciplines because He is your Father and you are His child whom He loves. Don’t lose heart when you suffer and think God is mad at you and cannot love you. Neither be afraid. Instead remain in God’s Word where you hear His love for you. Remember your Baptism. Through your Baptism God strengthens you daily. Luther writes, “We see what a splendid thing Baptism is. It snatches us from the jaws of the devil, makes us God’s own, restrains and removes sins, and then daily strengthens the new man within us” (Plass § 163).
Take the Lord’s Supper frequently. This is another way God strengthens us. “Christ, in His Supper, offers us His most holy body and blood, so that, engrafted by this communion as branches in Him who is the true vine (Jn 15:1–8), we might draw thence new, good, and spiritual sap" (Martin Chemnitz, Ministry, Word, and Sacraments [St. Louis: Concordia, 1981] 129).
When you were little and needed discipline, did your neighbor send you home? Why? How did you feel about being caught? We were sent home to our parents who loved us. And we didn’t like it. Does God love you? Even when you suffer? Even when He chastises and disciplines us? Yes. How do we know? Who is the source of all blessings? Who has given them to you? For whom did God give up His only Son on the cross? You. He gave up His Son for You. He disciplines because He loves you as your Father and wants you to live in Heaven with Him.
“Judge not the Lord by feeble sense, but trust Him for His grace; behind a frowning providence He hides a smiling face.” (v. 4 God Moves in A Mysterious Way, Hymn 514, TLH) Amen.
Now may the peace of God which passes all human understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior. Amen.