4 In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5 And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says,
“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when He rebukes you, 6 because the Lord disciplines the one He loves, and He chastens everyone He accepts as his son.” 7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father?
Today’s verses are a sequel to those from yesterday, the first three verses of this chapter where the goal was to finish the race without losing heart by looking to what Jesus suffered for the sake of our souls. The last part of verse 5 and all of verse 6 are paraphrases of Proverbs 3:11-12.
11 My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline, and do not resent His rebuke,
12 because the Lord disciplines those He loves, as a father the son he delights in.
So what are we to make of verse 4 In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood as context for verse 5 and beyond? For those of the time, before 70 A.D., Christians were persecuted. Suffering was common, thus the writer gives the examples of Old Testament saints and then Jesus prior to this. By this time Stephen had already been martyred and Nero was using Christians as living torches in Rome, so the shedding of blood was common. Today, not so much unless you live in a Muslim or Hindu majority country or China currently. Such is rare in the United States, but does occur however infrequently. The worst in recent memory was in Texas on November 5, 2017 where 26 were murdered. Thus it can happen even today.
However, in reality the verse has truly moved from life and death struggles, but uses such as reminders of what others have sacrificed for our struggles not for our life, but for our eternal soul as we struggle against sin. Then verses 5 and 6 make this clearer when we read
5 And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says,
“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when He rebukes you, 6 because the Lord disciplines the one He loves, and He chastens everyone He accepts as his son.”
Our discipline consists today of the Lord’s rebukes when we fail to struggle against the sin in our lives. We deserve such rebukes when we consider the sacrifices of those who came before us, when we consider the harsh persecution so many Christians face around the world today, when we consider just how easy we have it in our lives in the United States. We are greatly encouraged to not lose heart when He rebukes us. It is estimated 250 million (!) Christians face persecution today. Today. So while we struggle against sin, they struggle to remain faithful to their faith in Jesus the Christ while facing outright persecution.
No matter what our struggles, we are called not to lose heart and to keep the faith remembering always how much our Father in heaven loves us. If so many of our brothers and sisters in Christ remain faithful even in the face of incredible persecution, we must struggle against our sin while praying fervently for them.