“If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons” (Hebrews 12:7-8).
It is often difficult to receive discipline and correction, and even more difficult to endure the circumstances that accompany them. As our author will observe later in this chapter, “No discipline seems enjoyable at the time, but painful….” (Hebrews 12:11 CSB). But rather than view the subject of God’s discipline through the horizontal lens of our experience, what if we were to consider this matter from God’s perspective?
For example, the book of the Old Testament prophet Hosea directs our attention to the emotional component of God’s relationship with His people. Unlike those who view God as an impersonal authority figure, the following passage of Scripture characterizes Him as a gracious parent whose children were less than appreciative of His provision for their needs…
“The Lord says, ‘When Israel was a child, I loved him and called him out of Egypt as my son. But the more I called to him, the more he turned away from me. My people sacrificed to Baal; they burned incense to idols.
Yet I was the one who taught Israel to walk. I took my people up in my arms, but they did not acknowledge that I took care of them. I drew them to me with affection and love. I picked them up and held them to my cheek; I bent down to them and fed them'” (Hosea 11:1-4 GNT).
This passage reminds us that our view of God’s discipline should be tempered by our recognition of His love as a Father to His children. Those who seek to avoid the pain associated with the corrective circumstances that God allows to enter our lives may fail to acknowledge the loving motivation behind them. If we attempt to circumvent those lessons now, we may find that God will later enroll us in a far more rigorous course of study in the School of Christ.
These actions also reflect God’s investment in His children. While everyone is subject to the common trials that are typical of the human experience, some are open to the lessons that God seeks to communicate through such things while others reject them. With this in mind, we can say that a legitimate son or daughter of God looks for evidence of God’s tutelage in the circumstances of life as he or she seeks to grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ.