The Chastening of the Lord

“And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: “My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; For whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives.” Hebrews 12:5-6

Discipline is often uncomfortable to receive. If parents are honest, it can also be uncomfortable to give. Discipline is often painful. It hurts. Yet God calls parents to faithfully discipline their children, doing so not out of anger, but love (Proverbs 13:24). We love our children dearly and desire that they would obey and honor us as their parents, according to God’s law and commands in Scripture. We desire that our children would turn from sin and walk rightly with the Lord. We desire that they would grow to be mature, godly, God fearing men and women. Biblical discipline is a means that God uses to bring these things about (Proverbs 22:6,15). It’s important to remember that as we shepherd and discipline our children, we aren’t only teaching them about life, relationship, obedience, sin and its consequences, wisdom, etc. with us as their parents. We are teaching and training them in matters of life, relationship, and obedience with their heavenly Father.

The writer to the Hebrews reminds all of us of our relationship with God as His beloved children. As he encouraged the Jewish believers he wrote to, he also encourages us in matters of obedience. Discipline doesn’t start and stop with those in their youth. The writer teaches us that God’s fatherly discipline of us is a lifelong journey. He does so out of great love. This is part of our sanctification, our growth in grace. God doesn’t just leave us to ourselves. He trains and matures us in the ways of holiness.

Some may wonder if there is a difference between divine judgment and chastening. Yes, there is. Divine judgment is carried out in wrath against the wicked as they have broken God’s law and are still in their sin. Divine chastening is applied in love as we are now children of God in Christ. The wrath of God for our sins was poured out on Jesus on the cross. He took our place and received the judgment that was ours. When God chastens us, though it may be uncomfortable and painful, it is for our good. It’s for our spiritual benefit and profit.

Beloved in the Lord, I encourage you to consider the writer’s words today and ponder them. Though children don’t enjoy the discipline of their parents, notice the two things the writer says shouldn’t be true in our hearts and minds as we are disciplined by our heavenly Father. We shouldn’t despise His chastening, nor be discouraged. For God is pursuing, teaching, and training us out of love.

In times of chastening, what must we do? We must not be prideful and stubborn, pressing on in our rebellion. Instead, we should be thankful for His grace and mercies. We should be thankful for His willingness to stop our train of sin and rebellion and guide us back on track. We must humble ourselves in His sight, repent of our sins, and seek His face. May we seek to be faithful in doing so individually, as families, as a congregation. Remember, it’s good to be disciplined by the living and triune God. To Him be the glory!