“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.” Proverbs 3:11-12
It can be difficult to understand that when chastening of the Lord comes over our lives, it is grace from God. The fact that the Lord loves us, and that He takes care of us, and that He died in our stead on Calvary, and that He forgives us all our sins is easy to understand as a tremendous grace. But when chastening and scourging come over us, very few understand that. It’s written: “no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful.” Hebrews 12:11.
What Jesus came with
When we think about the fact that God cares for us, and about God’s goodness towards us, we don’t oppose that. We praise God for the grace that was given to us on the cross of Calvary where Jesus died for our transgressions, so that we could receive the forgiveness of sins by faith. That’s an incredible grace. But that’s also something they could receive in the old covenant. That’s not the thing that Jesus came with.
He came with a new life. That’s the gospel! The gospel of the blessed God, God’s peace, God’s joy. After we’ve been converted and reconciled to Him, then the intention is that we also come to His righteousness. Then we get God’s peace. Then we have a good conscience. But we don’t yet have all the peace that is in God. What God now wants to form us to be, is a man of God, so that we can come to that life that is in God.
And if we’re going to come to that, then we’re going to need an education, or upbringing. Then the chastening comes, and He deals with us as with sons. As people we are so superficial, but God has a goal with our life. Through chastening our ear is opened so that we can hear His voice speaking to us, so that we come to the right place in our spirit, where God wants us to be. That’s the whole intention behind this upbringing and education, this chastening. That we can come to a point where our senses have been exercised, so that we can discern between good and evil. So that we don’t remain children who don’t understand anything, but that we come to a mature life in God and have an understanding of what God wants, and His will in our lives.
God’s chastening is grace!
God’s chastening, where He deals with us as with sons, that is grace! And that’s why we are not to be surprised over the fire that comes to try us, as though it’s something strange. That is God working with us! But then we have to be so humble to understand that. That’s why it’s written: “Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God.” 1 Peter 5:6. We can feel that in trials, God’s hand is resting heavily upon us. But when we humble ourselves, then it’s lighter. We become a little less in ourselves, and that pressure lessens.
Think about Jesus, His education, His training. He was anointed with the oil of gladness above His fellow men. (Hebrews 1:9) That’s really something to think about. In those situations where He was with His father, as the son of a carpenter, He was absolutely content and satisfied. Absolutely! Because He knew that He was in God’s will, and God was doing a work in Him. And that’s the way it is with us too. When we think about the fact that God trains us, through chastening, to lay aside worldliness and all such things, that is God’s grace! (Titus 2:11-12) We can’t accomplish that without chastening.
If we believe that God sees us through Jesus as if we had never sinned, what can true grace accomplish in us? We will remain the same people, living according to the flesh. That is a false understanding of grace. Paul had a clear understanding of grace, and he also exhorted that this grace not be in vain. We show ourselves as servants of the Lord, in the most difficult things we meet in life. When a trial comes our way, of course we want to appear to be a servant of the Lord, but if we become bitter in the trial, then we show that we are not a servant of the Lord. That’s what happens if we don’t have this correct understanding of grace.
True grace is a work of the Holy Spirit; it’s a work of grace in Jesus Christ that we then partake of.
This article is inspired by a talk by Kaare J. Smith on 8th June 2017.