Chasten – Definition
To chasten means “to train,” “to instruct,” “to discipline,” or “to correct” (Ephesians 6:4). Too often the word discipline is only understood in a negative way meaning punishment and chastisement. But the word has a positive meaning which means teaching and perfecting of character. The Greek word “paideia” includes remedial discipline and means preparing children to their adult obligations.
God Chastens His Children
The Bible tells us that the Lord, as a loving Father, chastens His children in order to help them grow in grace. “My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; for whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives” (Hebrews 12:5,6). Therefore, discipline is the duty, and responsibility of loving parents.
But too often Christians tend to overlook the disciplinary value of difficult experiences, and this robs them of precious lessons they might otherwise learn. And they resent the fact that God permits such experiences to come upon them. “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).
All Things Work for the Good
The experiences believers go through are all “of the Lord” since nothing can affect them except by His knowledge and permission. But God is never the author of suffering. “Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone” (James 1:13).
It is never enjoyable to be chastened or corrected. The normal reaction is to resent it. But the wise response is to grow through it. He who is discouraged by the hardships in life, let him look at Christ and “consider him” (Hebrews 12: 2, 3). He should know that God loves him and He is trying to teach him a good lesson.
Nothing can touch the Christian except by our Lord’s permission (Job 1:12; 2:6), and all things that are allowed work together for good to those who love God (Romans 8:28). If the Lord allows sorrow and hardship to come upon us, it is not to hurt us but to cleanse us (Romans 8:17). The trials of this life take our attention from the world and help us focus on heavenly things. They show us the frailty of our nature and lead us to depend on the Almighty for strength (1 Peter 5:7). They also create in us a meek, humble and teachable spirit (Matthew 11:29).
It is God’s ultimate purpose (Ephesian 3:11) to save and perfect sinners by the power of His grace (2 Timothy 1:9). And since it is “In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will” (Ephesians 1:11), it follows that even the trials of this life work good for the saints. James wrote, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (James 1:2-4).
Therefore, Christians must be joyful through the trials (Nehemiah 8:10b). Too often believers pray for victory over specific sins, only to find that God answers their prayers by allowing circumstances which produce strength in their very areas of weakness. Thus, the Lord answers prayers and as a loving Father He does only that which is right for His children (Matthew 6:8).
In His service,
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