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Hebrews 12:11

ESV 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.
NIV No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
NASB For the moment, all discipline seems not to be pleasant, but painful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterward it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.
CSB No discipline seems enjoyable at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
NLT No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening — it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.
KJV Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.

What does Hebrews 12:11 mean?

In this passage, the writer of Hebrews is pointing out that merely experiencing something unpleasant does not mean we're being punished by God, or have been abandoned by Him. There are times where God uses struggles and hardships to correct us away from sin (Hebrews 6:7–8). And, there are times when we're simply being given an opportunity for growth—being "trained" into a deeper faith. This is obvious in the relationship between a parent and child, where a loving parent "disciplines" his child. Looking back, the child sees that guidance and respects the parent.

Here, the writer points out that nobody likes to be disciplined. Hardships are just that: difficult times, and a test of our faith. While in the midst of some struggle, our minds are mostly concerned with how unpleasant the situation is. Afterwards, however, we can more easily see how God used those experiences to grow us. We can see a process of maturity, driven by our discipline.

This is why the writer of Hebrews references the idea of being "trained," from the Greek word gegymnasmenois, which literally refers to "vigorous exercise." God's use of discipline, though unpleasant at the time, is much like the training of an athlete. The athlete's exercise "seems painful rather than pleasant" as it's being done. But, afterwards, the athlete sees growth and development as a result of those experiences. Faith, in that way, also grows as we endure God's discipline, helping us to produce "fruit of righteousness."
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