A Look Inside
Chastening, punishment, one word can be used in the place of another. Let’s look inward for a minute or two. You are in high school and have had a few years here on earth. Have you lived a life of “ask and you shall receive?” Have you lived a life void of any responsibilities? Let’s hope that the answer to both of these questions is a solid NO. Those who receive things instead of chastening administered in love tend to think that the world owes them a living. As stated in these verses, loving parents will chasten and rebuke their children.
Break It Down
Contradiction Of Sinners: Hebrews 12:1-3 1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, 2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.
Verse 1 is a bit tough to comprehend with only a surface glance. You may be wondering about the phrase “compassed about” and may get more out of this verse by substituting the word “surrounded.” The rest of verse 1 is rather easy to understand when you consider the church family that you are surrounded by today. Because of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross we can put away every weight and sin in our lives and move forward in our lives committed to God. This verse compares a Christian life to a race that should be run with patience.
Have you heard the phrase “patience is a virtue?” This could very well be the source of that saying. Is it possible to become more virtuous in areas other than in God’s service? You should have heard many times throughout the years that God will provide the resources for anything that he calls you to do. With a little thought you can probably clearly see many instances that show his provision in your life. If you are called to run a race God will provide the running shoes. When God calls you to speak to your friends and neighbors about him the proper words will be available as needed. If God calls you to feed the hungry he will give you a grocery store although it may not be as miraculous as feeding 5,000 men (plus women and children) with a few loaves and fish.
Verses 2 and 3 work together to give us the assurance needed to move from day to day here on earth. Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith. He went to the cross as a sacrifice and closed the book on his ordeal and our sin with the Greek word “tetelestai.” That means “It is finished.” Yes, Jesus’ 33 year (or so) life here on earth was finished. The need for annual sin sacrifices is also finished because he made the final sacrifice for our sins. Most importantly, God’s plan for sin atonement is finished.
Verse 3 uses the phrase “contradiction of sinners.” Jesus’ death on the cross for the sins of the world is the ultimate contradiction. Jesus led a sinless life here on earth. He was able to use scripture against satan during his temptation in the wilderness (Matthew 4:3-11). Notice in verse 10 that Jesus commanded satan to “Get thee hence.” We all have the power, through God, to command Satan to get behind us and leave us alone. Notice that “through God” is included in that statement. Regardless of how good we may consider ourselves to be; regardless of how highly our parents and grandparents may think of us, we have no power against the wiles of satan. God, however, has given us the power to overcome sin.
Rejoice In Rebuke: Hebrews 12:4-8 4 Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin. 5 And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: 6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. 7 If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? 8 But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.
Verse 4 is another deep verse, although the symbolism becomes rather clear with an understanding of the events at Calvary. This is a true statement that we have not shed our own blood as a sacrifice for sin. Of course, the shedding of blood required death of the animal. Would you be willing to die for any of your friends? Would you die for an enemy? Jesus died for everyone – even Judas Iscariot.
We have more of those worrisome words of punishment in verse 5; words such as chastening and rebuke. There are varying views on God’s chastisement. Two of these are that he causes punishment for members of his flock and that he allows trials and hardship. You are free to read these verses any way that you desire. Can you look back at hard times in life and possibly see some reasoning for those hard times. Bad grades? Sad times in your love life? Poor sports performances? It is possible that these things were a distraction from spiritual focus so they were allowed to happen. Of course, there are only two who know the reasoning – yourself and God. It is true that you may not know for certain the reasoning behind any of the things that happen but God is omniscient. This means that he knows the reason. It is in Psalms 31 that David cries out to God for redemption from his trials. He doesn’t ask why it is happening although he requests that our omnipotent (all powerful) God deliver him from them.
In verses 6, 7, and 8 we get a feeling for a true father-son relationship with God. We are told to expect chastening because we are far from perfect. We will stray. We will not live a perfect life. We will fall short in our Christian service. Chastening can be used to bring us back to God. Look at the Israelites and their history of worshiping God. Even after seeing the miraculous parting of the red sea, manna that falls from heaven, and water produced from a rock they created an idol god just because Moses had been gone from them for forty days. Yes, they returned to God only to be lured into idol worship again and again. Did God allow chastisement of His chosen people? Certainly. He used their pagan neighbors to help them to realize the many provisions that God had provided for them. Did God cause these trials? We can’t say for certain. What we can say is that he used them for the advancement of his people toward his worship. Whether the tribulations spanned a few years or a few generations, God’s people eventually turned back to him.
Partakers Of Holiness: Hebrews 12:9-11 9 Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? 10 For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. 11 Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.
In these verses we receive more comparison to our earthly father-son relationships. Although you may not appreciate correction or punishment from your father when it happens, you will look back later in life and understand why it is necessary. No, your mother is not left out of this formula. Scriptural times reflect a society that is male-dominated so it is aimed at fathers and males. Mothers love just as much and have equal rights to disburse punishment.
It is in verse 10 that we see the reasoning for God’s chastisement – so that we may be partakers of his holiness. In earlier verses you will see strong words used against those “whom the father chasteneth not.” Yes, correction and punishment should always be administered in love and with the purpose of pointing out the reasons for it. The full reasoning may or may not be known immediately although hindsight on the situation will usually clarify any positives obtained from the punishment.
We tend to enjoy verse 11 because it takes a look at the lack of chastening in the present. Yes, you will have mountain top experiences followed by times in the valley. You should not lose your focus on God while things are going well because it will become harder to look to him when the world seems to be against you. Consistent worship and study during all periods of your life will keep you in touch with God’s will and his plans for your life. Once you see that things are better and begin to credit yourself for this good fortune that is when you will be apt to stray away from God.
Wrap It Up!
Looking around at the world today do you see role models that you can look up to? What makes them worthy of such adoration? Could it be that you play basketball in school and that person is an NBA star? Maybe you are in drama club in school and your role model is an actor or actress on television. The problem here is that these people are human and are apt to let you down. Take a look at their private lives and you are likely to see drugs, alcohol, and any number of immoral activities. Of course, there are some who do not participate in the temptations that tend to come with fame and fortune, but those people are in a definite minority. As Christians, our role model is to be Jesus Christ. Although we can never achieve perfection here on earth, striving for a life of Christian witness will produce many positive results for us.
Somethin’ To Think About
How many quick-fix solutions have you seen that acted as a prolonged solution to a problem?
Can you run a marathon or even last a full hour in a sports event without proper preparation?
Always remember that anything that God calls you to do will result in his provision for the resources to accomplish that task.