God's Chastening Love

To chasten means to make something purer in style by refining it. All who are in Christ experience God's chastening love. How do we respond to that love? Do we yield or do we resist it?
by Lorraine E. Espenhain | Source: Catholic.net

People often become confused when confronted with the word 'chasten.'  They believe that chastisement has to do with punishment only.  But to chasten also means to make something purer in style by refining it.  All who are in Christ experience God's chastening love.  How do we respond to that love?  Do we yield or do we resist it?

When I was in my teenage years, my perception of God was...well, let’s just say warped and distorted. I saw the Most High as a kind, grandfatherly invisible entity Who desired, for the most part, to be uninvolved in my life. In my mind, as long as I believed in the existence of His Son, attended Mass, and didn’t commit any ‘biggies,’ such as murder and bank robbing, the Father wasn’t too terribly concerned with the rest. He remembered that my frame was mere dust. Character flaws, lying, filthy communication, drinking in excess, materialism, greed, selfishness, etc., didn’t matter to Him. In later years, however, as the Lord drew me closer to Him, and I began to learn more about Him through personal study in His Word, I quickly learned that I could not have been more wrong.

Not only does God want to be involved in our lives, He also wants to become the very center of them. I also found out the hard way that He is very much concerned with our character. When we become His sons and daughters through faith in Christ, His goal is to make us like Christ, and it is this aspect of God’s involvement in my life that I had not taken into consideration.  Whether we want to accept this truth or not, whenever the Lord sees areas in our lives that are keeping us from becoming more like Christ, He immediately gets to work in order to correct and change us. He sends situations into our lives to serve as His instruments of correction. To the extent that we respond properly to those situations is to the extent God’s goal of making us more fruitful and more like Christ will be realized in our lives.

Many thousands of years ago, the Lord sent the prophet Jeremiah to address the people of Israel about their failure to respond to His chastening love, rebuking them as follows: "The bellows blow fiercely to burn away the lead with the fire, but the refining goes on in vain; the wicked are not purged out." [Jer 6:29]. In love and faithfulness, the Lord had put the nation of Israel through a severe refining process in order to correct His people who had gone so far astray from Him. Unfortunately, the Lord’s people did not respond to that chastening process in the manner desired by God. Time after time, God sent different situations into the lives of His people, yet, at the end of the day, those situations failed to remove the impurities from the silver. Because the Lord’s redeemed people failed to respond properly to His chastening love, their impurities were not separated from them, as slag normally is separated from silver. In the end, God rejected them, calling the nation as a whole, ‘rejected silver.’

All throughout the New Testament we are taught that God disciplines us for our good so that we may share in His holiness. If we are not drawing close to the Lord in our daily lives, we will not be sensitive to that heavenly discipline. We will not be aware that there are corrections that even have to be made. If we are not sensitive to this heavenly discipline, we will not respond to it in the way that God desires.

All who are in Christ undergo discipline. None of us were born in a state of perfection; therefore, it is necessary that we be pruned, refined, cleansed, sanded, broken, torn down, rebuilt, molded, trained, and corrected all throughout our lifetime until the day we stand before God. Coming to faith in Christ is only the beginning. After coming to faith, we must learn how to cooperate with the Spirit’s work in our lives so that we will become like Christ as well. This imitation cannot come by the mere reading of a book or utterance of a prayer. Christlikeness only comes as we yield to Him over and over again through every disciplinary and refining process which He allows into our lives. It is this disciplinary process and chastening love that give new meaning to every hardship, offense, injustice, misunderstanding, pressure, or distress that comes into our lives. If we do not learn to look at these situations as instruments of God’s chastening love, which have been allowed into our lives to make us better, we will not respond to them properly.

Sometimes people become confused when confronted with the word ‘chasten.’ They believe that chastisement has to do with punishment only. But to chasten someone also means to make it purer in style by refining it. God’s chastening love isn’t just about punishment for unrepented sin. It’s also executed in our lives for purposes of character building and spiritual fruitfulness. If I call myself a Christian, yet rob banks for a living and refuse to repent of this, I can fully expect my Father in Heaven to intervene and punish me for love of my soul. But I must also understand that this same Divine intervention will take place just as swiftly if I’m selfish, lacking in humility, or prone to materialism. God cares about our character, and He immediately goes to work in our lives whenever He sees areas in those lives that are keeping us from becoming more like His Son.

Unfortunately, God’s chastening love and His refining process hurt, so much so that the author of the book of Hebrews wrote as follows: "No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." If you’ll notice, the ‘harvest of righteousness and peace’ is not promised to those who resist God’s chastening love; these things are promised only to those who yield to Him and allow themselves to be trained by that discipline.

When we find ourselves facing frustrating, painful, or distressing situations, we need to examine our character and our lives more closely. What it is that God is trying to change or develop in us through those situations? Are we yielding to God in those situations or are we resisting His love and concern for us?

Have you ever wondered why some people in the Church seem to remain unchanged year after year? Is it because God has allowed them to go unscathed through life and would rather spend His time picking on you? No, it is because they have chosen not to respond to that chastening love and refining process. It may also be that they aren’t even aware that such a refining process is being attempted in their lives. This is why it is so vitally important that we draw close to God in our daily lives through prayer and time spent studying and meditating on His Word. These necessary elements keep us connected to Him. They keep us sensitive to Him. If I, as a believer, am not spending any time whatsoever with God each and every single day through prayer and daily Bible reading, in all likelihood, I will mistake His chastening love and faithful discipline for just another bad day or quite possibly, a satanic attack, and I will not yield to Him the response that He desires.

It must be understood that God is not the author of evil; Satan is. If evil does come into my life, it is because God has allowed Satan to execute it, that good might be accomplished. We clearly see this principle demonstrated in the lives of people like Joseph and Job. Sometimes evil may come into my life as a result of my own poor choices and decisions. How that difficult situation entered my life isn’t the issue; the issue is how I respond to it. If God has allowed it into my life, there is something that He desires to correct or cultivate in me.

We all would do well to reflect on the situations that are currently taking place in our individual lives. We all have problems. We’re all facing frustrating or challenging situations. But if we don’t draw closer to the Lord in order to discern why it is that He has allowed those situations into our lives, we will end up suffering in vain. Instead of asking, "Why?" we need to ask the Lord, "What?" "What is it that You are trying to teach me, correct in me, or cultivate in me through this situation?"

May the Lord give us the grace to respond to His chastening love in the manner that He desires, for no discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace...

...but only for those who allow themselves to be trained by it.

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Published by: Scrooby
Date: 2010-05-23 07:02:38
I enjoyed your article and while many continue to argue against the existence of God, for you it is a given and you are right. God is most definitely real. For those who doubt it, read The Attempted Murder Of God God: Hidden Science You Really Need To Know.

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