Icebreaker: Whether or not you’re a parent, what do you think are the hardest parts of parenting? What did you find most difficult about being a child?
1. Share a time when you had a tough time disciplining a child or being disciplined by a parent.
2. Prayerfully read Hebrews 12:5–13.
3. What stands out to you? What family terms do you see?
4. Read Prov. 3:11–12. How is it similar to Hebrews 12:5–13? What is the point being made?
5. Compare the two passages. What changes do you see?
6. What does discipline mean (vs. 7)? Do you think we should consider all hardships as discipline from God?
7. What two unhealthy responses can we have toward God’s discipline, according to vs. 6?
8. God associates discipline with love, and punishment with acceptance (vs. 6). Why is it sometimes hard to see it that way?
9. Hardship is a form of discipline. What forms of hardship are you currently experiencing? What hardships have you experienced in the past?
10. According to the above verses, why is the absence of God’s discipline far worse than the presence of discipline? How might these verses help us to stop envying those whose lives seem trouble-free?
11. The writer of Hebrews assumes we respected our earthly fathers when they disciplined us and did what they thought was best. Is that true in your case? Explain. If you had an unpleasant earthly father, to whom can you look as a good father model?
12. Regardless of your earthly father’s discipline, what reason does Scripture give for you to feel safe and confident when your heavenly father disciplines you?
13. What does Hebrews 12:5–13 teach us about God’s character?
14. For what does Hebrews 12:5–13 remind us to be thankful?
15. Why is it that the way we respond to God’s discipline can result either in healing or serious disability (vs. 13)?
16. Reflect on the hardships you currently face. How do you think God wants you to adjust in your thinking or actions?
17. If you are suffering, this passage teaches that God has His hand on your life and wants to make you more like Him. How should trials affect our view of our identity as children of God?
18. Take a few moments to thank your loving heavenly Father for his disciplining care for you, and ask for His grace and parental assistance to endure.