Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have trained by it. Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed. (Hebrews 12:11–13—NKJV)

It is sad that we live in a day of great confusion about how to rear children into functioning adults. Few healthy role models are available to us because a higher profile invites higher scrutiny from the very sources which would decry the very morals which good parents are seeking to impress upon their children. It seems best to quietly and faithfully pour our lives into the precious “mission field within our reach” while seeking to avoid the notice of others.

Some scrutinizing “nanny types” would have us believe that children are not uniquely the responsibility of their own parents but instead are held in trust for the “collective.” (Since when has communistic terminology been so tolerated? Oh, that’s right, since we allowed employees to be called “workers.”) When everyone has responsibility for children, then no one has responsibility. Just think, if the “collective” children are also my responsibility then I will be over to take them to church on Sunday morning! Somehow, I do not think this is what the intelligentsia means.

Discipline, as God defines it, is an exercise that produces a product. The twelfth chapter of Hebrews has been treating the subject as a positive outworking of the ownership of children by the parents and the unique opportunity that such ownership affords. Just as the parents of children take a special interest in rearing their own children, so God takes direct involvement in forming, nurturing, and chastening His own children. Needless to say, there are two spiritual families in this world. We are born into Satan’s family (with Satan as our spiritual father) when we are born physically, but when we are born again through the blood of Jesus Christ we are adopted as sons into the family of God! He owns us, just as our earthly parents own us until our age of majority.

The “training” in verse 11 is actually the Greek word from which we get “gymnasium,” the place of striving, challenge, competition, records, workouts, contest, agonizing in strenuous activity, confidence, and excelling. The verse plainly states that the disciplining time is not designed to be a picnic (joyful) while training, but is often filled with taking pains to excel. This is work, sweat, and very often redundant activity, in order to learn the lessons that will be necessary in the grueling contest that is to come.

The chastening hand of our loving heavenly Father is always firmly applied so that He may form the champion in us! Though we do not often know the mind of our Coach, we are assured of His record of success, His methods of creating the well-rounded athlete, and His infinite wisdom of the contest that lies ahead. In much the same way, earthly parents are called to coach their own children so that they may become the best adult they can possibly be, well-equipped to earn the respect of their peers, and bring honor to the family name.

Our text tells us that the training of God will always bring forth a product. It is here described as “yields [to give over] the peaceable fruit of righteousness.” The agony of the training place “gives over” to the fruit of the champion. God’s fruit that is borne in His children whom He trains is a fruit characterized by righteousness. They will display a champion’s heart (character), they will display a champion’s manner (conduct), and they will display a champion’s record (influence over others).

If you are in the crucible of God’s training arena, rest assured that He only does this with the champions which He is coaching. It will not be pleasant, but it will be within your limits, your capabilities, and your mission. Be encouraged, be invigorated (verse 12), and clear your way of obstacles which may impede your progress or keep your “training bruises” from healing. The toughest Coach you will ever have is investing Himself in you so that you may be the champion He has designed you to be. Trust your Coach and do not lose heart! Trust and obey.