February Theme: Love
Our Chastening: Hebrews 12:11
His Chastening: Hebrews 12:6
It is of course, typical and fitting that for the month of February our theme will be “love”. What is not so typical is that we will start it out on a subject we rarely associate with love – even though scripture plainly says it and we’ve often heard it: Hebrews 12:6 “For whom the Lord loves he chastens, and scourges every son whom he receives.”
Our idea of a loving relationship is one of approval, not correction. We tend to think that once we no longer need correcting we’re in the mix. And, we have good reason to think that way. Growing up with our parents we learned very quickly that if they weren’t upset with us, we were probably doing something right. In school we answer correctly to get a good grade and we get praised for doing well. If we consistently answered incorrectly and got poor grades, we were not doing well at all, and it was time for a conference with the teacher for correction. Even after school, the business world is set up much the same. When we start a new job we are trained and go through probation – and when the training and correction stops and we’re left to do our jobs, we know we’ve done it well with praise and promotions. Any meeting with the boss in which we are chastised means we’re not doing so well and in danger of losing the job all together.
It seems only fitting then to me that this topic is actually a good segue from January’s theme to February’s. Last month we talked about “old” compared to “new”. So let’s start this month talking about the old concept of correction and a new concept of chastisement. And Hebrews is the scripture that relates them both to love.
Hebrews 12:11: “Now no chastening for the present seems to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.” Nobody likes to be chastised, corrected, or punished. And no matter whether the correction is for an overall better purpose: to become a responsible citizen; to be a successful student; or to be a valued employee, we always take the matter with condemnation and concern.
We then learn from the world around us and we tend to be hardest on ourselves. And in essence we try to correct ourselves before anyone else does. And if we find ourselves to be acceptable, then we balk against any correction that goes against our personal assessment - especially with God. Instead of receiving His correction, we rally at him, trying to convince Him that we’re doing the best we can, that we’re following the 10 commandments, and paying our tithes, loving our neighbor and being kind to strangers. We remind Him that we go to church diligently each Sunday, that we read the scriptures, and participate in an awesome emailed bible study every Friday, and that we are trying to be and do what God wants us to. Why then won’t He leave us alone, do this job of being a good Christian, and finally give us the approval we are working so hard to achieve?
This morning as I was thinking on which topic of love I wanted to share with you from my last lesson at the Bible College, when my mind began to wander. I found myself thinking that today; I just want to live in God’s love. I just want to live in that higher plane of peacefulness that must surely come when we absolutely 100% get it and get God. But stuff kept happening – the child was disrupting my peacefulness by waking up at 6:30 am, the husband came down as well, all dressed and raring to go for the day… Usually it’s quiet and peaceful at that time of the morning – where was my enlightened peaceful life with God!?
Well, God was quick to remind me that “life” does not promise that kind of peace. Instead we are promised trials, tribulations and struggles. I was gently corrected and reminded that God’s peace is to get us through the struggles and there is never going to be a time when as a Christian I’ve “arrived” and am no longer in need of correction and education.
In fact, when I thought further about it – I don’t want to reach a time when I know it all and no longer have anything else to learn. I am thrilled by every new revelation of God’s word and by every fresh revelation of His presence in my life. I am so overjoyed when I learn something knew about the Lord we love, that I am excited, anxious and even impatiently anticipating the next lesson.
Guess what? God is too! His correction for us is not punishment and condemnation of what we are doing wrong but it is proof of what we have already done right! And He is excited for every new opportunity to reveal Himself further and more deeply to us!
Ok, try and follow along: have you ever worked an online educational program – the kind where you work at your own pace? Often you are required to read your passage and then you are asked a challenging question. If you get it wrong, you are to go back and read the passage again. If you get it right, it knows you are ready for the next level and gives you the next passage and an even more challenging question.
So it is with the Lord’s chastisement. Hebrews 12:6 says that God chastens whom He loves. Don’t you know He loves us all? The verse also says He scourges every one that He receives. Our approval is in His receiving us! Our arrival is marked by His continued chastisement. Once we have arrived and accomplished and “gotten” the lesson in chapter 1, God shows His love and approval of us by moving us on to the harder lesson in chapter two. Why? Because He loves us, and he knows we can do it, and wants us to become responsible citizens; to be successful students; and to be valued employees.
Do you constantly feel like God is just beating you up, over and over about the same old things? Compare those feelings to the paragraph about the online educational program and describe what God would have you do if He was that online program.
Do you feel like just when you get a handle on things, God just throws more at you and you feel like he really is giving you more than you can bear? Compare those feelings to the paragraph about the online educational program and describe what God is saying of you if He was that online program.
To be scourged obviously does not sound like it feels good. Then again there have been many a challenge I have faced in which I was proud of how I handled it; science class was a nightmare until I realized I actually understood what the teacher was talking about; and every good job I had started out not at all as good.
A punishment can be administered without any love at all. Add a generous dose of God’s love and what we get is peace in the midst of chastisement and comfort in the correction. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be easy – but God loves us, He is encouraging us, strengthening us – and occasionally He will even lovingly sneak in an answer or two. He wants to give us the joyous, peaceable fruit of righteousness through His Love! All we have to do is receive it!
Your Home Study homework: Compare the instruction to the Hebrews in 12:6 to the revelation of Christ Jesus in Rev. 3:19. What is similar and what is different?
© 2008 Deidre Campbell-Jones