The church at Laodicea had developed a big problem: they were “lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold” (Revelation 3:16). They had grown confident in their abundance. Convinced they did not need anything, they became spiritually complacent, even apathetic. This disgusted Jesus.
How Jesus addressed them says a lot about godly discipline. He offered them true riches, white garments, and salve for their eyes (Revelation 3:18). While disgusted by their attitude and behavior, He wanted to help them be better: “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me” (Revelation 3:19-20).
When we’ve been hurt by someone we care about, it can be easy to lash out. Because we are hurt, we may want to inflict punishment or withhold love so that the guilty party shares our pain.
Jesus sets a high bar. Discipline should be motivated by love, not as a reaction to our personal embarrassment, anger, or fear. Discipline is not negative: it seeks the best for the person. Discipline does not withhold love: it seeks to restore relationship and promote closeness.
May we all experience the love and closeness with Jesus and with each other that comes from godly discipline.