One of the subjects that many Believers ignore, either inadvertently or on purpose, is the area of Chastisement. What exactly is Chastisement and how is it administered? The New Testament, of which the theme is Grace, mentions this word or a form of the word 12 times. It is discovered two times each in Luke and the Corinthian letters, once in Revelation, and seven times in Hebrews. Hebrews 12:5-11 gives the reader an excursion into understanding the full implication of this word.
Basically, chastisement comes under three categories: 1) training; 2) correcting with words; 3) discipline enforced by physical means. When one enters residency in the Kingdom of God, there are many things to learn and understand. The growth process can be both a rewarding and at the same time a discouraging experience. Some of the Believers’ early mistakes can be overlooked as basically a learning experience. But, if no progress begins to show in their ongoing spiritual education, there will be words of chastisement that will land on the eyes and ears of the disciple. This is experienced through the reading of the Word or spoken through those in ministerial offices. In the Old Testament, God’s chastisement was administered by visual means, such as physical ailments, military oppressions, famines, atmospheric phenomena, as well as geographical influences. Under the Law, God’s response to disobedience was dealt with quickly. Under Grace, His Word plays center stage in the lives of the Believers. So many Christians look to the Bible as a treasure chest of blessings, and it certainly does contain a wealth of Truth, but it is also meant to be for “…reproof, correction, for instruction in righteousness.” (II Timothy 3:16) So many times God has used His Word to chastise His followers, but when the Holy Spirit, witnessing our disobedience, attempts to lead us to Scriptures of correction, our human mind ignores the prompting and the Bible remains closed, or a search for blessings ensues. We must always remember that God chastens us because He loves us and wants us to experience the fullness of His Kingdom.
God also uses Pastors to bring correction to the body of Believers. Sadly, some Pastors are more concerned with pleasing their “employers” rather than God. I remember preaching chastising messages that did not exclude me, and had members of the church chastise me for being so negative. I have always wanted to be liked and accepted by the people whom God had chosen me to lead, but because of my commitment to God, I was willing to bring His message of correction whenever it was called for. Many times as a pastor I was chastised by God’s Word. The Scripture came to me as a two-edged sword, cutting away errors in my life as well as clearing away obstacles that stood before me. I have to admit that God’s chastisements were challenging and even painful, but through the acknowledging of my errors and seeking His forgiveness, I was able to experience the fullness of His joy.
One of the reasons people neglect reading their Bibles is the anxiety of what will be found, especially if it exposes sin in their lives. Neglected Sunday worship also is framed around the potential embarrassment of sinful exposure.
When we are on the wrong road, evidenced by our unsettled peace, we need to receive His chastisement. Thank God He cares enough about us to be interested in our lives. Let us welcome His chastening as an evidence of His love for us. Don’t blame your pastor for messages that expose the mistakes of the Saints, but encourage him to tell it like it is. After all, it may save our lives!