“For whom the Lord loves he chastens, and he scourges every son whom He receives. If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons.” (Heb.12:6-8)
There was a point in my life that I believe God chastened (corrected) me, and I can tell you it was one of the best things (spiritually) and worst things (physically) that has ever happened to me. He had to get my attention by slowing me down with illness long enough to re-focus my life. I’m not where I need to be, but I can tell you I haven’t been the same since…in a good way. One more thing is clear. When God chastens His own, you can bet it’s not going to be done in condemnation, but rather for correction. There’s a difference. Condemnation and punishment have no redeeming value. However, God’s correction to His own is done for a purpose to restore His child for his own good and to God’s glory.
Although there’s nothing joyful about being chastened at the time, this verse still resonates with me for several reasons:
It tells us of God’s loving nature as our Heavenly Father.
What kind of father would not discipline his son? Only a father who cares about the well-being of his child is diligent to keep a watchful eye on him. If a child is found playing with matches, only a good parent would reprimand him, snatch them out of his hand and make sure that kid never forgets that lesson. While this may be harsh, it is the most loving thing a parent can do. So it is with our Heavenly Father.
It tells us that God’s discipline can be severe.
The transliteration of “scourges” is “mastiggoo”, which refers to flogging with a whip, and was a common Jewish practice. (MacArthur, Hebrews commentary, P.394). If the disobedience is great, or our apathy is great, His punishment will be great. Either way, we must know that God takes no pleasure in the painful discipline of His children. “For the Lord will not reject forever, for if He causes grief, then He will have compassion according to His abundant lovingkindness. For He does not afflict willingly, or grieve the sons of men.” (Lam. 3:31-33).
If we are disciplined by the Lord, it tells us that we are His.
While we may enjoy and care about other people’s children, we are not obligated to discipline them. Why? Because ongoing discipline implies a close relationship. It is evidence of an investment made in the one who is disciplined. The fact that a child may be unruly and rebellious does not change the fact that he is still his Father’s son. It only emphasizes his need for discipline so that he might be mature enough to handle his Father’s inheritance.
While forgiven, we may have to deal with the consequences of our sin. Yet, as sons and daughters of God, our sin will never negate God’s ultimate promise and purpose. Does that mean we can do whatever we want? Maybe that’s not the question. Maybe it’s – How much pain do you want to bear? How much do you want to put your family or friends through?
On the other hand, does it seem as though many unbelievers are living an easy life? Do you sometimes feel as though God lets you get away with less? Don’t be so quick to envy. If they are not disciplined, it is because they are “illegitimate children and not sons.” Listen to what Paul says along these same lines. “They were being discipline by the Lord in order that they would not be condemned along with the world.” (1 Cor. 11:32).
And peace as a result? There’s nothing like it.
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. (Hebrews 12:11)