Last week I wrote a post to introduce a new series I’m starting called ‘Boot Camp: Facing Hardships in Hardships in Your Daily Christian Lives’. I plan on incorporating my past training into different types of struggles that Christians face. Don’t hear me wrong; I am by no means a seasoned combat war veteran. However, my brief training has given me enough experience to incorporate into my writing, no matter how little that training.
The first real experience any enlisted soldier has with the military is called Shark Attack. After soldiers go through Reception Battalion (At least in the Army. I’m not sure about other branches), they are taken to their basic training unit. Once they arrive, they go through Shark Attack. This is the point where the Drill Sergeants yell at them for every small mistake and hiccup. For anyone not used to that kind of lifestyle, it is a very frightening thing to go through. For the next few weeks after Shark Attack, soldiers undergo the first phase of training where discipline is the prime focus.
In the introduction of this series, I mentioned various types of struggles that we as Christians face. The first type of struggle is discipline. I mentioned it first because it is one of the first struggles soldiers undergo during basic training. One passage in Scripture talks a great deal about the discipline that Christians undergo as children of God. Found in Hebrews 12:3-13 (ESV), it reads:
Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 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.
Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed.
The passage starts off by telling us to remember Jesus Christ. When we remember Him who suffered at the hands of sinners, we must persevere and not grow weary or become fainthearted. In basic training, there was a phrase that the Drill Sergeants would use. Though somewhat insulting for those with thin skin, they would say that those who complained or would give up had “tiny heart syndrome”. In our struggles, we must remain strong. We cannot allow ourselves to have “tiny heart syndrome”, but instead we must persevere. After all, in our struggle against sin, we have not resisted enough as to shed blood.
We are then reminded of exhortation that addresses us as children of God. We must understand that God does discipline us and that we cannot take that lightly. When (not if) He reproves us, we cannot grow weary. It is because He loves us that He disciplines us and chastises us. There will be struggles in our lives and some of that struggle will come from the Lord. Yes, you heard me right. A lot of people today will tend to ignore that side of God. However, these struggles are for a reason.
Why must we have to endure these things? Because of discipline. If God never disciplines us and we never face hardships, we will eventually become undisciplined. In basic training, it started off extremely disciplined and strict. Over time it got better and more relaxed. However, discipline was still important. One of the worst times we got smoked (To define this, think of discipline sessions where we are punished with physical activities because we did something wrong) was at the end of training. It was about a week or two until graduation and until I could go home. Our senior Drill Sergeant asked for ten volunteers and only nine stepped up. The rest of us were working on various tasks, but when a Drill Sergeant gives an order, you drop what you’re doing to answer him or her. Because it was the end of training, we became complacent and were disciplined as a result of it.
Complacency leads to people being undisciplined. They stop caring and following the rules. In our case as Christians, it might lead to the thought: If I am not going to be punished, whats to stop me from sinning? I believe in Perseverance of the Saints which means that once saved, you cannot become unsaved. Because we are saved, our hearts have been changed so that we see our imperfect ways against His perfect nature. We then see what happened when Jesus walked the earth, and we hate the sin that we commit. We cannot measure up to His righteousness because we have none. Does that mean we continue to sin? Absolutely not! The elect understand that we should look to Jesus as the ultimate example. When we overcome sin, we see it was God’s help. When we fall, we see God’s grace. Our eyes are open to the truth and for that truth we strive to sin no more.
The next several verses talk about the relationship with our father. It is natural for a father to discipline his children. Most of us have been disciplined by our father on earth, whether by being spanked, grounded, or anything else. In the end, we respect him for it. The same view can be looked upon the Father. Our earthly fathers discipline us because they know it is for the better. However, this is only for a short time. God disciplines us for our own good so that we may be holy for a much longer time. It isn’t for some random reason or no reason at all. He loves us. Because He loves us, He disciplines us according to His will.
Even though the struggles and hardships may seem dark and painful, we must rejoice in them. Through these difficult times, it is the discipline that the Lord gives that yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. Those that undergo this discipline are enduring and training, so that they may have this peaceful fruit. At training, we didn’t often look to the outcome of all the training and discipline (especially during the smoke sessions). We saw pain instead of the eventual benefits that would come out of said discipline. When I am asked what I thought of basic training, I look back from the finish line and say “It was worth it all. If I had to go back, I wouldn’t change a single thing”.
The finishing verse of the passage is a great way to close this post. So in times of struggle, lift up those tired arms. Strengthen those weak knees. Stay on the path that the Lord has called you to take. Go out and do His work, to do His will, and to accomplish His mission. Remember what Jesus (the one man who did no sin, though 100% human) did and what happened to Him at the hands of sinners. Discipline leads to endurance. Endurance leads to the peaceful fruit of righteousness. A lack of discipline leads to compliance, and compliance leads to further sin.
Soli Deo Gloria.