“…and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons,
‘My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
Nor faint when you are reproved by Him;
For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines,
And He scourges every son whom He receives.'” ~Hebrews 12:5-6
You know what? This verse is addressed to me. I’m not just saying that because I am an adopted son of the Lord (and therefore under His discipline), but because I have forgotten this exhortation time and time and time again. I usually don’t recall how He disciplines, reproves, and scourges His children because He loves them and because it is how He trains them to be like Him and to walk in His ways. How can I be so foolish as to forget that the afflictions of this life are not just opportunities to know Him and His faithfulness more, but also His loving correction of me?
This passage is obviously tied to the last verse we looked at; that verse focused on our need to persevere against sin, while this passage speaks to how that striving against sin on our part is automatically accompanied by the loving chastisement of the Lord. Remember, He desires our purity, holiness, and godliness even more than we do! The words “discipline”, “reprove”, and “scourge” found in these two verses might sound rather scary and “parental-discipline-like”; that is for good reason – they DO refer to parental discipline, punishment, and correction. If you look up these words in the Greek, you will find that they have meanings that hearken us back to a father disciplining his children with words, blows, etc.
Why would a loving Father reprove, scourge, and discipline His children if He gave His Son to die for their sins? Do you remember what sin is, does, and leads to? Jesus died to take the eternal penalty for our sins (something impossible for us to do apart from eternal damnation) and to reconciles us to the Father, but He also died to set us free from sin here on earth. Just because our sins were washed away by Jesus’ blood doesn’t give us the liberty to keep living a life of sin. If you belong to Christ, then you and I have a Father who loves us enough to not allow us to continue unchecked down the road of sin, self, and destruction – just like an earthly father who loves his children enough to turn them from their own foolish ways and train them for life. If our God did not punish us, correct us, and train us, it would be clear that He doesn’t love us or that we don’t actually belong to Him.
Have you (like I) forgotten the exhortation of the Lord’s discipline of His children? Perhaps it is time for us to stop and rethink our lives a bit: What if we are chalking up affliction after affliction in our lives to things like spiritual warfare, physical and material limitations or problems, and/or the sin and failures of others – instead of rightly recognizing the loving and corrective hand of our Father?