Hebrews – Chapter Twelve XV

by Ed Urzi

“Have you forgotten the encouraging words which God speaks to you as his children? ‘My child, pay attention when the Lord corrects you, and do not be discouraged when he rebukes you. Because the Lord corrects everyone he loves, and punishes everyone he accepts as a child'” (Hebrews 12:5-6 GNB).

One source defines this reference to discipline (CSB), or chastening (GNV) with a look at the original language of this passage…

“The latter word is paideia, which was used of the whole training and education of children. It speaks also of whatever in adults cultivates the soul, especially by correcting mistakes and curbing the passions. It speaks also of instruction which aims at the increase of virtue. The word does not have in it the idea of punishment, but of corrective measures which will eliminate evil in the life and encourage the good.” (1)

Unlike some who ascribe the negative events of life to the unpredictable elements of “luck,” “fate,” “chance,” or “karma,” there is no need for despair amid those circumstances. Instead, we can gain insight from these conditions by asking some important questions such as…

  • What may God be seeking to teach me through this circumstance?
  • What does my response to this situation tell me about myself?
  • How can I apply this experience in the future?

However, there is another aspect of this passage that warrants our attention. You see, it is appropriate to consider any role we may have played in eliciting God’s correction in our lives. In other words, we should consider the possibility that our behaviors have prompted God to engage in an act of loving discipline. The Scriptures offer several admonitions in this regard…

“Some of the redeemed had been sitting in darkness and deep gloom; they were prisoners suffering in chains because they had disobeyed God’s instructions and rejected the Most High’s plans. So God humbled them with hard work. They stumbled, and there was no one to help them… Some of the redeemed were fools because of their sinful ways. They suffered because of their wickedness” (Psalm 107:10-12, 17 CEB).

“An evil man is held captive by his own sins; they are ropes that catch and hold him” (Proverbs 5:22 NLT).

“Have you not brought this on yourselves by forsaking the Lord your God when he led you in the way?… Your wickedness will punish you; your backsliding will rebuke you” (Jeremiah 2:17, 19 NIV).

So while the Lord chastens and corrects us, we should prayerfully seek to ensure that we have not deliberately prompted those corrective measures. As 1 Corinthians 11:32 reminds us, “…when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.”

(1) Kenneth S. Wuest, Word Studies in the Greek New Testament (Hebrews 12:5-6) Copyright © 1942-55 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.