All parents find themselves at times executing discipline on their children in ways that seem less than perfect. We may be too harsh or less firm than we need to be. We also may perceive our motives as tainted by selfishness, resulting in a chastening that may involve our own benefit far more than that of our child.
This presents a great challenge to born again believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, all of whom have been on the receiving end of parental imperfections, and many who have been the bestowers thereof. The challenge lies in the temptation to transfer our sometimes wayward disciplining to our perception of God. Because we often do not understand His ways and reasonings, our spiritual enemies tempt us to suspect that our Heavenly Father acts from imperfect motives. In principle, we know this is not true. In practice, however, we may succumb to the insidious innuendo of Satan that causes us to wonder if God’s way is indeed perfect (II Samuel 22:31).
“Whom the Lord loveth, He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth” (Hebrews 12:6).
Recalling that the love of God “seeketh not her own,” we recognize and affirm that perfect unselfishness guides His every action (I Corinthians 13:5). Indeed, our Lord has never had a selfish moment, and He never will. His discipline, whether of correction from wrong, or training toward righteousness, always flows from a Heart of goodness that even eternity will not allow us to fully explore. Our benefit always results from the hard things God determines or allows to confront us, and we do well to look toward Heaven with thanksgiving not only for the blessings of the delightful, but also for the buffetings of the difficult. All work together for good to those who love the Lord Jesus Christ, and we shall one day look back on dark valleys with no less grateful wonder than sun-graced summits.
A final point. We can be sure that our Father in Heaven takes no pleasure in wielding the rod of chastening any more than does a loving earthly parent. He simply knows the perfection of His wisdom and way, and He knows our present need for affliction as well as affirmation. Yes, a perfect Father birthed us and now rears us in Christ. We can be sure of His love, even in times when the tears formed by His necessary correction fall from eyes that see the rod as a branch of grace.
“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.”
“Before I was afflicted, I went astray. But now I have kept Thy Word.”