Tuesday, 16 April 2019
For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. Hebrews 12:10
The author now continues with his thought of chastening for correction and the expected outcome of that action. In this, he begins with, “For they indeed for a few days.” The intent of these words is the contrasting of what is temporary and of that which is eternal.
A father has the ability to chasten a child for a set period of time. In relation to a human lifespan, it may be one fifth, or even up to one third, of the person’s life that the son is corrected as a youth. And even after the teenage years, a father can continue to correct his son through various means. But even if that continued through until the father’s death, it is still mere “days” in relation to the eternal nature of God. And the positive effects of the father’s chastening will hopefully continue throughout the life of the child, but that life is but a breath compared to the positive effects which come from God’s hand of correction –
“For all our days have passed away in Your wrath;
We finish our years like a sigh.
10 The days of our lives are seventy years;
And if by reason of strength they are eighty years,
Yet their boast is only labor and sorrow;
For it is soon cut off, and we fly away.
11 Who knows the power of Your anger?
For as the fear of You, so is Your wrath.
12 So teach us to number our days,
That we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Psalm 90:9-12
Understanding this, the author continues by saying that our human fathers “chastened us as seemed best to them.” Human fathers may do the best with the circumstances which surround them; but they have limited knowledge, they have limited ability to process any situation and how it will lead to future events, they have limitations on their ability to correctly handle their emotions, and so forth. They can only act within very limited parameters in relation to the situation, but they must act. And so they do as seems best at the moment.
In contrast to this, and speaking of God, he says, “but He for our profit.” The human parent will normally act in a manner which has a positive intent for the child, aiming for what is best for him, even if something negative arises out of his chastening. On the contrary, God knows exactly what will be one hundred percent profitable for His children when He chastens them. There is no “best guess.” Rather, there is perfection of action. The author says this knowing that God cannot err in any way, and thus His correction is so “that we may be partakers of His holiness.”
The intended outcome is geared completely towards this end. The correction we receive from God’s hand will never lead us to a lesser state of holiness. Instead, what occurs is perfectly brought upon us for an exacting and precise outcome. The thing for us to contemplate, then, is that – as children of God – our lives are being directed in the most perfect manner possible for our time and circumstances. If we can truly accept this, then we can know that those things which seem out of control are actually under complete control. This leads to the peace that passes all understanding. God has it all under control.
Life application: Parenting doesn’t come with an operating manual – as any parent knows. Books written to help parents through tough times often come with contradictory messages and even good ones don’t cover all circumstances. And so we discipline our children “for a few days” as we think best. However, because of our own faulty morals and limited knowledge of both present and future repercussions, we often blow it and make things worse.
Because of this, we can then fly to the opposite extreme and fail to discipline at all – thus making things worse in a different way. Also, because of our inner desire to protect our children, we will often decide on a lesser punishment simply because we don’t want to hurt them or break their hearts. Isn’t it complicated? They steal a cookie and we go through a huge dilemma of trying to decide how to handle it!
God, however, is the perfect administrator of justice. For those who haven’t called on Jesus, one type of punishment will be handed out – eternal condemnation. But for His sons through adoption, God disciplines us for our good in order that we may share in His holiness.
When we suffer hardships or trials, we may often be confused as to whether it is God’s correction or just time and circumstance. In either case, we should consider it God’s providential correction and accept it with gratitude. By accepting our situations this way, we learn to share in his holiness. Just as Jesus accepted the reviling, persecution, jeers, and eventually crucifixion from His people, we too should accept what comes our way. Jesus, though not needing correction, still accepted the trials to show us how we too should live.
Lord God, if receiving Your hand of discipline means sharing in Your holiness, then let it come. To Your glory alone. Amen.