God is a Good Father. This is a truth I never get weary from proclaiming. It's the very foundation of our Faith. It's the motivation of why God sent the Lord Jesus Christ to be the substitutionary sacrifice for all our sins and afflictions, sickness and disease, and spiritual death. While most Christians fully acknowledge God is Good, there is one area that seems to cause many to stumble.
The idea that God chastens His children has been a source of confusion for so many. That is, they believe God is Good but if you foul up, fail, falter or fall into sin your proverbial goose is cooked. God is really angry and disappointed in your failure to measure up, and He will punish you greatly for it.
First, let's see what the New Covenant states about this subject.
“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 12:5b-6 NKJV
This passage establishes that God does in fact chasten His children. That is never been questioned or contested. What I do contest and disagree with is the idea of how He chastens us. Specifically, what does chastening actually mean?
Examine this passage in light of the New Covenant. In light of Jesus' revealed will and character. In the light of God's all the time goodness. What words pop out of this passage?
Do not despise or be discouraged when you are being chastened. God chastens those whom He loves. Did you catch that? Those whom He loves!
The fact that the Word declared God chastens those whom He loves should give us better insight as to what chastening means. The fact that in the same passage as the word chastening appears so does the words for whom God loves, should bring clarity as to what chastening means and what it can't mean.
The word chasten simply means instruction and nurturing. It carries the implication of correction. Correction is a good thing, not a bad thing. If I get the answer wrong, I want to know the right answer so I can grow and be better equipped.
I dare say we've all known parents who never corrected their children, always gave in to their demands, and never disciplined them when they did wrong. What kind of behavior did these children exhibit as a result? Rebellious, selfish, and sadly sometimes destructive.
What God wants His people to know is, who He really is. He is a Good Father. He is not the harsh taskmaster who is ready to send destruction your way the moment you mess up. He is not the impatient king who is burdensome with His demands and will quickly strike you with affliction when you miss the mark in meeting all the harsh requirements. He is a loving Father who cares for His own.
If chastening simply means instruction and nurturing and carries the connotation of correction, how then does He instruct, or correct? God does not instruct us by killing our loved one. He doesn't correct us by afflicting us with painful sickness or disease. God's nurturing or the development of His children's growth, doesn't mean He bankrupts our business, causes our car to be wrecked, or takes away our possessions. A Good Father would never do these things, and God is always Good.
God loves us unconditionally. His arms are never folded in disapproval or disappointment over our failures or foul-ups. He isn't pointing His finger at us in disgust when we blow it, falling into sin and wrongdoing. Understand, God is Good and just, He isn't pleased with the sin or wrong, but He is still pleased with us because we are His beloved children made Righteous by the Blood. He still rejoices over us, the redeemed, because He loves us and will never turn His back on us or cast us out. He is a loving Father.
Knowing that God isn't pleased with the sin, the poor choice, the wrong thinking, the wrong believing, the wrong speaking, leads us to the why He corrects. He corrects us because He loves us. He corrects us because these actions, deeds, thoughts, words, and beliefs are detrimental to our growth. They hurt others and even ourselves. They are also contrary to our new nature. They are counter to who Christ already made us in the Finished Work.
Knowing why He corrects, because He loves us and wants us to grow up in Him, we must answer how He corrects. Let's see what His Word declares.
Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? Hebrews 12:9 NKJV
This passage gives the key to "the how" He corrects. The confusion about chastening would fade away if we just read and understood this passage. Hebrews reveals we had human fathers who corrected us. How? in the flesh, that is by natural means. The Word goes on to describe God as the Father of spirits. So how does He correct? In the spirit. By spiritual means not natural. That removes the idea of catastrophes, cataclysmic destruction, and calamities being the method of His correction.
His correction method is completed in the spiritual realm.
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 NKJV
How does He correct? He uses His Word. The Corinthian church had many issues in their midst. How did the Spirit through Paul correct? Did God through Paul say;
No, God spoke to them about their identity. God used a letter, His Word through Paul to bring the correction. God didn't send a mega-tsunami to wipe them out. He didn't send an earthquake to get them.
How does God correct us? How does He bring about growth? How does He train us up? God uses His Word to bring us to maturity. He reminds us of whose we are, who we belong to. He reminds us of who we are in Him, He reminds us of our identity. He reminds us that we are the Righteousness of God in Him. He makes us aware again that we are the redeemed and these thoughts, words or actions are not who we are. He reveals His steadfast, and unconditional Love for us in greater and greater measure.
In summation, we have a Good Father who always wants our best. We have a Good Father who longs for His people to know who He is. That He is always Good. That He loves us unconditionally and for all time and eternity.
He is so Good and loving that He takes the time to help us grow, mature, and walk out who He has already made us inwardly through the Finished Work. Chastening is a good thing, it is not the traditional religious idea of God's punishment. God punished Jesus for our sins, He isn't ever going to punish the believer's sin because the price has already been paid. We have a Good Father, amen.
Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net