4None of you have yet been hurt in your battle against sin. 5 But you have forgotten that the Scriptures say to God's children,
“When the Lord punishes you,
don't make light of it,
and when he corrects you,
don't be discouraged.
6The Lord corrects the people
and disciplines those
he calls his own.”
7Be patient when you are being corrected! This is how God treats his children. Don't all parents correct their children? 8God corrects all his children, and if he doesn't correct you, then you don't really belong to him. 9Our earthly fathers correct us, and we still respect them. Isn't it even better to be given true life by letting our spiritual Father correct us?
10Our human fathers correct us for a short time, and they do it as they think best. But God corrects us for our own good, because he wants us to be holy, as he is. 11It is never fun to be corrected. In fact, at the time it is always painful. But if we learn to obey by being corrected, we will do right and live at peace.
12 Now stand up straight! Stop your knees from shaking 13 and walk a straight path. Then lame people will be healed, instead of getting worse.
Warning against Turning
14Try to live at peace with everyone! Live a clean life. If you don't, you will never see the Lord. 15 Make sure no one misses out on God's wonderful kindness. Don't let anyone become bitter and cause trouble for the rest of you. 16 Watch out for immoral and ungodly people like Esau, who sold his future blessing for only one meal. 17 You know how he later wanted it back. But there was nothing he could do to change things, even though he begged his father and cried.
Sometimes life is really painful because of the correction we are experiencing from God. Why would a loving God willingly correct us? This question is an honest cry of our hearts and in many ways cannot be answered sufficiently in this bit of scripture alone. And yet, there is an incredible verse tucked into it which frames this question: “God corrects all His children, and if he doesn’t correct you, then you don’t really belong to him” (8).
Correction is always tough at the time! The writer doesn’t pretend otherwise. In spite of it, however, there is identity and purpose in it for us. First, the Lord’s loving correction grounds us in our identity – that we belong to God as his legitimate children. Part of belonging is being willing to be transformed by discipline. Correction also helps us discover the purpose in it, specifically how we are to live on the other side of it. Whatever the offense which has led to the correction, we are now to live its opposite and, as a result, we will experience God’s supernatural peace (v 11). In fact, through correction, peace becomes our new motivator for how to live in our relationships. God’s peace, his shalom, brings wholeness and healing both outwardly in our relationships and inwardly in our souls. Whereas bitterness destroys relationships and poisons our souls, peace cultivates health within us and frees us to love others well. And love, as John reminds us, is what defines us as a child of God and indicates to others that we know God (1 John 4:7).
Even though it’s uncomfortable, spend some time sharing with God your response to his discipline in your life. Perhaps start with the prayer below . . . .
Loving Father, Thank you for our relationship. Thank you that you take it seriously, even to the point of discipling me and showing me a new way to relate to you and others. Guard my heart and mind in Christ Jesus so that my thoughts and actions honour you. For Jesus’ sake, Amen.