Christians rightfully spend a great deal of time giving thanks to God, particularly for the spiritual blessings which He bestows. Some of these include such wondrous blessings as salvation from sin, the promise of eternal life, holiness, God’s favor, prayer and other authorized avenues of worship, instruction, chastisement, true happiness…
“Wait, hold on just a minute,” you say. “Chastisement . . . a spiritual blessing?!”
Most of us do not care for chastisement. It is not pleasurable to endure. However, if chastisement is a blessing from God, it is important to consider how we respond to chastisement. And indeed it is a blessing—“Blessed is the man whom thou chastenest, O Lord” (Psa. 94:12). There are various reasons why chastisement from God is a blessing: (1) Chastisement is a sign of God’s favor. The Lord chastens those whom He loves and whom He considers His children (Prov. 3:12; Heb. 12:6-8; Rev. 3:19). (2) Chastisement can keep one from going astray, or it can bring back one who has previously gone astray. Manasseh was one of the worst and most evil kings of Judah, yet once he received chastisement at the hand of God he humbled himself before God and prayed; thus being restored his kingdom, and was obedient to the will of God (2 Chron. 33:9-13). It is best for one to learn to associate pain with disobedience now, rather than once it is too late to change his circumstances. (3) The chastisement of God is based upon His perfect knowledge and righteousness. Most children, if not all, come to know the pain of being rebuked or punished for an act of which they are not guilty. But such is never the case with the Lord. The Psalmist wrote, “Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word…It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I might learn thy statutes” (Psa. 119:67, 71).
The Lord has various means by which He can chastise. (1) He may use affliction in one’s life as a means of bringing that person closer to Him. Manasseh became faithful upon being brought into captivity by another nation. Many are familiar with those who have come to realize the importance of having a proper relationship with the Lord after watching a loved one die, or after having a close brush with death himself. (2) The Lord continually chastises through His word. Scripture is “profitable” (or “beneficial, advantageous”) for “reproof” (2 Tim. 3:16). It was God’s word that told both the Pentecostians and the Sanhedrin that they were guilty of crucifying the sinless Son of God (Acts 2:36; 7:52). (3) The Lord chastises through His saints. His people have an obligation to rebuke when needed: “Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him” (Luke 17:3).
There are two possible ways to respond to chastisement: acceptance or rejection. When the Pentecostians were told that they were guilty of crucifying Jesus, they accepted the chastisement (Acts 2:37-41). When the Sanhedrin were told that they were guilty, they rejected the chastisement (Acts 7:54, 57-59). The Revelation to John portrayed those who rejected the chastisement of God as blaspheming God (Rev. 16:8-11, 21). Recall how God marveled that all the chastisement that He brought upon the Israelites never caused them to repent (Jer. 2:30; Hag. 2:17; et al.).
How do you respond to chastisement? Do you blaspheme God? Do you become angry with those who rebuke you in accordance with God’s word? (cf. Gal. 4:16). Though it may be difficult, chastisement in whatever form it may take must be viewed as a blessing—an opportunity to correct a wrong.
“My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord; neither be weary of his correction” (Prov. 3:11).