I’ve got a heavenly Father. He adopted me in 1997. When no one else wanted me, He did. He chose me…just because he loved me. Not because I was good, because I wasn’t. Not because I was special, because I wasn’t then and I’m not today. Not because I could do anything for Him, because I can’t. Not because I deserved to be adopted, because I didn’t.
I’ll never really understand why he did it, but I rest well every night knowing that His grace was and still is greater than my sin.
It’s strange. Amazing, even. When no one else even wanted to give me a job, he made me a son. And…in making me a son, He gave me full privileges. He held nothing back. He wrote me into the will. He made me an ambassador, and promised me a retirement home. Full benefits, for life. He paid off all of my debt, both to Him and to others.
In the beginning, I had no idea of the true depth of His love. But, I started reading the history of our family and I found out that He really, really loved me and that there would be almost nothing that He wouldn’t do for me.
Almost, that is, because if there is one thing that I know from having children of my own is that being a wonderful, kind, loving father is not the same as being an irresponsible one.
See, my heavenly Father has determined to make sure that I don’t continually and recklessly bring shame on our family name. That is, on His name.
I found out pretty quickly that He wasn’t going to let me behave the way that I used to behave before He adopted me, without any sort of instruction or correction. Good fathers don’t do that. Mind you, I normally don’t want to behave like I used to behave, but there are times.
You know those times when you put yourself in a compromising position and you make bad choices. In a moment of weakness, we’re susceptible to poor decision making. When we surround ourselves with bad influences, we tend to choose what the crowd is choosing. Well, going along with the crowd has consequences.
Like the time when I was 17 and I told my dad that I was going to the mall on a Friday night. Instead, I went to a friend’s house for a party. He came by that party a few hours later and told me that when I got home we would talk about it. I got home about midnight, full of a six-pack of courage, and he before I knew it, he had me pinned against the wall with his forearm on my throat and every ounce of that faux courage gone.
He proceeded to tell me that he wouldn’t tolerate certain behavior – drinking, lying and the like, and then, just to make sure that I understood who was in charge, he told me that if I ever challenged him, he’d whip me until he was 80 years old.
That night, I didn’t want to find out. Honestly? I don’t really want to find out today either. He’s just 65!
I was a long way from God then, and it would stay that way for another 5 years, but the next morning he woke me up and asked me if I wanted to go to church. “No, sir.” I replied. “Get up. You’re going anyway.” was his response. I can laugh about it now, but back then it wasn’t so funny.
That’s why Hebrews 12:6-11 makes sense to me.
“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? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. 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.”
Good fathers don’t let bad behavior go unpunished. Presumably, it was Paul who wrote, “For whom the Lord loveth, he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.”
My dad loved me when I was 17. I was his son, and when I got out of line, he was going to do what he deemed necessary to put me back in line.
My heavenly Father is exactly the same. He loves me. I’m His son, and if I need a spiritual forearm in my chest from time to time, He’s not going to hold back. If I were never chastened, if I were never punished for my indiscretions, one of two things would necessarily be true. Either, I’ve got a negligent Father, who doesn’t really love me, or I’m not really His son.
Since we are talking about God, the former can not be true. As they say here in Portugal – Period. Paragraph, as in “next paragraph.” The conversation is over.
Yet, because I have felt the chastening hand of the Lord for the last 15 years, I know I’m one of His.
No doubt. Period. Paragraph.
Paul goes on to say, “If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.”
Did you get that? We have here a law – all of God’s sons are partakers of His chastisement. Even Jesus.
Pardon me, if this shocks you, but especially Jesus. 2 Cor. 5:21 tells us, “For he (God the Father) hath made him (Jesus, His Son) to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” So, my heavenly Father imputed my dirty, filthy, hellish, dark, repulsive sin upon His spotless son, and then chastised him for it. He did the exact same thing in respect to your sins. In fact, he did the exact same thing for the sins of the whole world.
Oh, the beauty of Is. 53:5: “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” Yes, “…all (of His children) are partakers…” of His chastisement.
Secondly, I’d like to say that the chastening of the Lord is a means to an end and not an end in itself. Looking back at our text we discover that God disciplines us for our own good. It is for our benefit that we are reprimanded and rebuked.
Referring to our earthly fathers that take part in our carnal instruction, Paul writes, “For they…” Our dads. “For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he…” Our Lord. “…but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.”
Therefore, the specific reason for us being partakers of his chastisement is so that we might also be partakers of his holiness.
He wants us to be more like him. He purges us that we might bear more fruit. He prunes us and trims off what is not pleasing to Him so that we might bear much fruit. It is a painful process, but we must keep in mind that it is for our profit, for our own good.
Sometimes, my son, after he gets a little old-fashioned correction, he does a little dance where he runs quickly in a very tight circle, clutching his back-side with both hands, breathing erratically and chanting, “It hurts, it hurts, it hurts.”
I normally say, “I know, son. I know.” and sometimes I add, trying to rise above his crying, “IT’S SUPPOSED TO.”
Spiritually, we are no different. As the Lord does his pruning, I find myself doing the same dance and saying – Lord, it hurts, it hurts, it hurts. Being conformed into the image of Christ is not an easy, nor is it a quick process. However, it is a profitable one. I discovered today in the midst of my studies that at its root, the word chasten itself intimates an intent to purify or to make chaste.
When the hand of the Lord is upon us in judgment, and we are doing our little dance and crying about the pain, in our hearts the Holy Spirit quietly whispers, “IT’S SUPPOSED TO.”
That’s why Paul included what we refer to as verse 11 in this 12th chapter of Hebrews. He reminds us that it is not supposed to be fun. No part of it, at all. He says, “Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous…” It should be a lesson from which we learn and alter our behavior. It should be a lesson that makes us think twice about our sin.
Twenty years later I remember coming home drunk after lying to my dad. Being lost and a slave to sin, without trying to make any excuses, I was powerless to the influence of sin in my life, but the punishment that I received that night was designed to encourage me never to disobey my father. It should have been effective. It should have been, but sadly it wasn’t.
God’s judgment upon His children should be effective. It should yield the peaceable fruit of righteousness. Sadly, at times it doesn’t, hence the final clause in verse 11, “…unto them which are exercised thereby.”
What about in your life? Is God’s rod effectual? Is it drawing you nearer to Him? Is it making you more like His son, or is your rebellious spirit getting the best of you?