Brian D. Dykstra (Teacher at Hope PR Christian School, Walker, MI)
*This article was originally written as a devotional for his fellow teachers at Hope CS. It is posted here because of its broader value for our website readers.
Proverbs 3:11-12: “My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord; neither be weary of his correction: For whom the Lord loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.”
One of the responsibilities of fathers, and teachers who stand in the place of parents, is the chastening of children. Chastening is not something we eagerly anticipate doing. It is not pleasant. Whenever chastisement is given, we cannot help but wonder whether or not the chastening is given in the best way possible, or whether or not the child sees our love and godly concern for him. We are always walking a fine line of either chastening too much or too little. However, this being a covenant school, and standing in the place of covenant parents, chastening students is something we must do.
It is important to notice that the father here refers to this chastening as having its origin in the Lord. This covenant father is pointing out to his son that the chastening the son experiences does not originate in him, but in the Lord. Here we are not to view God as a Master who rules over servants. Neither are we to have in our minds the fact that God is also the Judge from whom nothing can be hidden. We must note that this chastening is of the Lord, Jehovah, the name of our covenant Father who is merciful and loving, and who delights in the fellowship of His people.
Anybody who has any experience in teaching or parenting knows there are times when children are annoying. The origin of chastening must be God’s law, not what annoys us. This is a temptation, especially when we are tired, run down or overburdened. Sometimes, we chasten for our convenience. Chastening must have its origin in God. This happens only when we have as our standard God’s law.
There are two attitudes towards God’s chastisement which we are instructed to avoid. First, we are not to despise the Lord’s chastening. To despise means to loath something because it is viewed as being worthless. Such despising could be expressed, “Let God do His worst to me for what He perceives to be my shortcomings. I am man enough to endure it and continue on my chosen way. Evidently, God disapproves of what I am doing, and therefore has brought something unpleasant into my life. So be it! My chosen way gives me pleasure. I don’t care about His correction. My way is right! As long as I may do as I please and get what I want, I don’t care about what the consequences of my sins may be.” We witness this attitude in various ways in our society. It is obvious that this response to the Lord’s chastening is not the response of faith.
The second attitude toward chastening is that we grow weary of His correction. This response does not appear to be as bad as the first, yet it is still not the response of faith. Sometimes, we are weary of experiencing a guilty conscience for our sins. After all, the wicked actually perform sin, and many times it seems they suffer no consequences for their sins. Not only do their consciences not seem to be afflicted, some even boast of their evil-doings. We, on the other hand, must implore God’s mercy and humble ourselves simply because we have sinful desires in our hearts! It doesn’t seem right. Why must we be chastened when there certainly are those who are much worse than we are. Such an attitude fails to recognize that God chastens us because He deals with us in His love. We should not be jealous of the wicked because their consciences have been seared or they seem to get away with sin. God allows them to go their own way because He has no pleasure in them. The Lord does not desire fellowship with those who are not redeemed. God will not correct them so He can walk with them and delight in their fellowship. He doesn’t love them.
God does not chasten because He sadistically enjoys seeing us squirm. God chastens those whom He loves and regards as His children. We have evidence that we are legitimate children of God when He chastens us. Our Father says He delights in us! God chastens in order to bring His children to repentance and obedient living. He will not allow us to walk in sin and assume the character or appearance of Satan, whose we were by nature. God will have us walk in His ways and will use His chastening rod to mould us into His image because He has purchased us with His Son’s blood. He will see to it that we resemble our new Master. Our Lord has not redeemed us so we can continue in the old paths of sin.
We must be quietly confident under our Father’s chastisement. We do not know His purpose with us or what our final place in His kingdom will be. God chastens so that we shun the way of evil and walk in fellowship with Him. Jehovah delights in us and would have us keep company with Him on the path He has marked out for us by His law. The Lord’s chastening maintains us in the way of fellowship with Him and the rest of His children.