The Chastening of the Lord

The Chastening of the Lord.jpg

One of the most important truths you could ever learn about God is simply that He loves you unconditionally. I know that may seem like common sense, but when the storms of life occur, most people tend to feel like God is out to get them. God’s feelings toward you are always good and never for disaster (Jer 29:11). God’s not behind your pain!

Think about it. Why did Jesus rebuke the storm if God was the one who caused it? It’s because God’s doesn’t cause the storms in your life! He’s not punishing you or trying to teach you something through sickness, lack, pain, or any other bad thing we can think of.

A few years ago, my wife, Laura, and I were attending a small group at a church. The
pastor was teaching on Hebrews 12:5-6 that says

“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.”

He went on to say that God will cause pain in our lives in order to teach us something. Laura quickly raised her hand and said, “My mom passed away at the age of 49 from a massive heart attack. Are you saying that God killed my mom so that my family and I could learn something from it? What could we have possibly learned from that?”

Needless to say, it was an awkward moment. The pastor stammered over his words and tried to come up with a logical explanation, but couldn’t.

Telling people that God is behind the pain in their life is a misinterpretation of the Bible and it pushes people further away from a relationship with God. If God was as hard, mean, and judgmental as many make him out to be, I wouldn’t want anything to do with Him. The good news is, He’s not punishing us and He’s not behind our pain.

Then what’s up with Hebrews 12? Why does the author say that God will chastise His children? Great question! The answer comes from the Greek definition of the word. The word for “chastening” is paideia and Strong’s Concordance defines it as “the whole training and education of children.” In fact, throughout the new testament, the same Greek word was translated as nurture (Ephesians 6:4), instruction (2 Timothy 3:16), learned (Acts 7:22), and taught (Acts 22:3).

The chastisement from the Lord isn’t a harsh punishment. It is God teaching us, nurturing us, and instructing us about who He is and who we are meant to be. God is not in the business of punishing us. In fact the scripture says God already took our punishment upon himself (Romans 3:24). When you fail or fall, He wants nothing more than for you to run to him to be loved, nurtured and trained up so you can experience the freedom that He has provided through His love for you!

What about that word “scourge” in Hebrews 12:6? I’m glad you asked! Scourging is the terrible act of beating someone on the back with a long strip of leather that has shards of sharp metal embedded in it. Is that how God treats His children? No, it’s not. The author of Hebrews is quoting Proverbs 3:11-12.

My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, Nor detest His correction; For whom the Lord loves He corrects, Just as a father the son in whom he delights. 

Notice what’s missing? The word “scourge” is nowhere to be found! This mistranslation of Proverbs 3 has caused so many people to accept the bad things that happen as correction from God.

God doesn’t have to put sickness, lack, or pain in your life to get you on track. For someone to say that God had to give Laura’s mom a heart attack so they could learn something is the same as calling God a murderer.

God is not behind your pain. He’s not intentionally causing you to lose your job, lose your family, or destroying your property through natural disaster just to teach you a lesson. And he will never reject your or punish you harshly when you make mistakes.

He takes the hard things we experience due to our own bad decision and the difficulties that come from living in a sinful world and he heals us, restores us, and teaches us how to rise above it. God’s correction will launch you into a better life, not tear you down. The next time you fail or experience a hardship, run to Jesus. He will love on you every time and will give you wisdom and instruction to overcome.

To learn more about God’s chastisement and the truth about His response to our mistakes, check out this video: