Rebuke - Temporary Pain for a Greater Purpose

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, June 13, 2013 2 comments

Just last week, I was having a conversation with a brother in Christ who is a little bit younger in his faith. He was talking about how he feels like he gets punished by God for doing things wrong a lot more when he is trying to follow Jesus than when he is simply doing whatever the flesh wants. He was looking at other people in his life who he says are atheists and concluded that they aren’t suffering the consequences for sin like he is. I very much appreciated his honesty and willingness to ask this difficult question because it’s one that probably all of us have asked at some point. However, it’s critical that all Christians learn to understand why we can’t compare our lives or God’s dealings with us to those of non-believers.

Several days after I had this conversation with my friend, I was blessed to watch the movie “The Life of Pi”. If you haven’t already, I encourage you to check out this wonderful film about suffering, God’s plan for it, and the miracles that he gives us to help us persevere in the midst of trials. Without giving away the story, I’ll just say that the main character has to wrestle with the same question that my friend did over and over again throughout the movie. He experiences emotional and physical suffering that is unparalleled to what most of us have to endure. As he matures throughout his ordeal, he begins to see how God uses the suffering to correct him and bring him to a point where he conquers his fears and depends on the ultimate Provider.

From a human standpoint, suffering is one of the biggest roadblocks to people believing in God and continuing in their faith. We probably all know someone who has turned away from God or holds bitterness toward him because of suffering that person didn’t think was fair. The writer of Hebrews penned a great passage of Scripture on this very topic in Hebrews 12:1-13. I want to focus on verses 5 and 6, where the author quotes and teaches on the Book of Proverbs. “And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: ‘My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son’” (originally Proverbs 3:11-12). Do you see what the writer did there? He doesn’t try to tell us what we want to hear – that there will be no discipline or rebuke – but instead tells us there WILL be suffering and we are to be “encouraged” by it. He must be crazy! Then again, maybe he isn’t.

Do you want to be considered a child of God? Think about what that would mean. It means that you look to him as your Provider and Sustainer in the same way you view your earthly parents as a child, but it also means you receive discipline, and sometimes painful consequences, when you do wrong so you can be brought back to the right path. Now, I realize that some of you may have received excessive and even abusive correction from your parents in your life. But I want to make it very clear that our parents are sinners just like us, while our Father in heaven knows and created the perfect balance between gentle love and painful discipline. When one of his children is doing something that could cause his child or others great and lasting harm, God steps in and rebukes his child to try to prevent further damage. Those who do not profess faith in Jesus have chosen not to be children of God, because their sin is still separating them from him. That separation can only be fixed by accepting that Jesus’ blood on the cross took care of our penalty, allowing us to be called God’s children. Therefore, those who do not accept it cannot receive the “encouraging” and “loving” rebuke like a child.

Friends, we all know that being rebuked is not fun. It’s painful. The author of Hebrews says as much. “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” (12:11). Webster’s dictionary even shows that the word “rebuke” is partially derived from an Old French term meaning “to chop wood”. Chopping wood is painful, especially if you’re the wood! I have personally been rebuked by God and by some of my closest friends several times in my life when my lifestyle choices were not God-honoring even while I was leading others. I had planted my own “tree” and did not want it to get cut down. But the truth I have learned is that, unless the structures of selfishness, pride, and disobedience do not get painfully chopped down, me and others will suffer even more than the pain of getting cut down. As a child of God, I’m thankful for those times in my life when I was rebuked, even though they hurt then, because of the righteousness and peace they have brought. May we all continue to grow and learn to humbly submit to the Lord’s painful work in our lives as we see the greater purpose.


Bill Seng said...

Great post Logan! And I agree, Life of Pi is a must see!

JD70 said...

I have not seen Life of Pi yet. I've heard mixed reviews. I really want to see it.

Excellent post this week! Thanks for the straight forward truth filled loving approach in this blog.