“My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction: For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth” (Proverbs 3: 11-12)
The Bible uses various terms to describe the special blessings of God’s redeemed people. Some of these terms are:
o “his people, and the sheep of his pasture” (Ps. 100: 3);
o “heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ” (Rom. 8: 17);
o “the heirs of promise” (Heb. 6: 17);
o “heirs of the kingdom” (Jas. 2: 5);
o “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people”
(I Pet. 2: 9);
In his epistle, the apostle John added a term which reflects the believer’s family privileges – “the sons of God”: “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God” (I Jn. 3: 1). John beheld with joy, wonder and thankfulness, the amazing condescension of God in receiving a sinful people into His family and according them the blessings of sonship.
This adoption into God’s family is evidenced by the witness of the Holy Spirit: “For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. 16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God” (Rom. 8: 15-16). Let us be thankful that God has accepted us as His children and we are precious to Him.
• Mark of true sonship
As God’s children, we enjoy many blessed privileges. However, because God is our Heavenly Father, He has the paternal right and authority to chastise us when we are wilful or wayward.
Chastisement is a mark of true sonship. One writer aptly calls it “the family badge” without which we do not belong to the family. No true believer, no matter how saintly, will be exempted from “family discipline” if he chooses to disobey the Father. God applies the rod when necessary to rebuke, instruct, subdue, humble and turn His children back to the way of righteousness.
God chastises us for our own good. When corrected, our eyes are opened more clearly to see God’s purposes for our lives. It causes us to check our lives and to turn away from our sins.
“The best of God’s children need chastisement. They have their faults and follies, which need to be corrected. Though God may let others alone in their sins, He will correct sin in His own children; they are of His family, and shall not escape His rebukes when they want them. In this He acts as becomes a father, and treats them like children; no wise and good father will wink at faults in his own children as he would in others; his relation and his affections oblige him to take more notice of the faults of his own children than those of others. To be suffered to go on in sin without a rebuke is a sad sign of alienation from God; such are bastards, not sons” – Matthew Henry
In Hebrews 12: 5-7, the apostle Paul reiterates the precious truth – that God chastises His children because He loves them: “And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of Him: For whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?”
No parent will ever chasten another’s son. The reason is obvious – he does not belong to the family. Similarly, God will never chasten those who are not His: “Thou shalt also consider in thine heart, that, as a man chasteneth his son, so the LORD thy God chasteneth thee” (Deut. 8: 5).
• God’s mercy
Even as He disciplines His children, God tempers His wrath with mercy: “For the Lord will not cast off for ever: 32 But though he cause grief, yet will he have compassion according to the multitude of his mercies. 33 For he doth not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men” (Lam. 3: 31-33). He knows our frailties (Ps. 103: 13-14); He chooses the right time (Isa. 30: 18); He uses the most appropriate measure and the gentlest means (Jer. 30: 11).
We thank our merciful God for not giving us what we deserve: “He has not dealt with us according to our sins nor rewarded us according to our iniquities” (Ps. 103: 10). “Comparing our affliction with our sin, is not the marvel that it is so light?” (Charles Bridges) (… to be continued)