“And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says, ‘My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son'” (Hebrews 12:5-6 NIV).
If this passage from Hebrews 12:5-6 seems familiar, it may be due to the fact that a similar concept appears in the Biblical books of Job and Proverbs…
“Behold, happy is the man whom God corrects; Therefore do not despise the chastening of the Almighty” (Job 5:17).
“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).
These references serve to prepare us for the next point of emphasis in the book of Hebrews…
“In the next section (5-24) the writer explains the meaning of suffering and hardship as the discipline (not ‘chastisement’ or ‘punishment’) of a loving Father (cf. 6), whose purpose in it is to educate (Gk. paideuein) his child. Thus in the case of the Christian, suffering is God’s educational process by which he is fitted to share God’s holiness (10).
It is a necessary element in the Father-child relationship as the writer establishes from his book of proofs- the OT (Prov. 3: 11 f.), and from the analogy of human parenthood (8-9). If you are not being educated you are not a legitimate son (8).” (1)
With these things in mind, this portion of Scripture encourages us to exercise discernment in respect to the difficult events that enter our lives. For instance, God may permit such experiences as a means of identifying an attitude or behavior that requires attention. Or perhaps He may allow the circumstances we encounter to assist us in developing character and perseverance. He might also use those developments to prepare us for the future.
Thus, it is important to recognize that every Christian is (or should be) enrolled as an apprentice in the “School of Christ.” Each grade level in this academic institution features a curriculum that is tailored to every individual student. While Jesus used this student-teacher analogy in addressing His followers on several occasions, there is a strong familial element that is present here in our passage from Hebrews. We’ll explore that aspect of our relationship with the Lord in greater detail next.
(1) New International Bible Commentary general editor G. C. D. Howley, consulting editors F. F. Bruce, H. L. Ellison. Copyright© 1979 by Pickering & Inglis Ltd [pg. 1529].