I frequently hear people say that unless they stop doing something, or start doing something they will not receive the blessings of God. The passage used is Hebrews 12 and it is often misused to paint God as a harsh and cruel God who is waiting, club raised, to smack a person over the head.
I once was told by a “friend” that she could no longer be my friend because (in her opinion) I was sinning. She said she didn’t want to be my friend anymore because “I don’t want God to get me.” What nonsense.
Can I just tell you- God is not a “getting” God! Does God discipline us? YES, but not in the way it is wrongfully portrayed by some.
Recently I was talking with someone who has been severely chastened by God. She was involved in some things that were serious sin issues. While she did cease her involvement in the sin and fully repented of it she tried to hide it and keep it a secret from people who needed to know about it. She described literally months of misery; internal and external, spiritual and physical torment (her word!).
She described sleepless nights, hounding guilt, stomach upset, poor ability to concentrate, the urge to medicate with food or alcohol, and what she refers to as “a constant haunting” of media events that made reference to her sin. She resorted to sleep aids because the sleeplessness was so bad, and found life lost all its joy.
This was the discipline of the Lord and was intentional and purposeful. His intervention in her life (and ours when we sin) is always restorative. God does not punish Believers in the way some say He does no matter how it feels to us.
Do we who are under grace have consequences? Of course we do, the above account is a great demonstration of that! Often consequences are God’s greatest blessing to us because they remind us that our lives are not our own, we belong to someone greater than ourselves. Our consequences very often bring pain and pain is a great motivator! When I experience pain I am reluctant to make that same move twice. This is God’s formula for teaching us and disciplining us.
Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. Hebrews 12:9-11 (NASB)
God’s goal for the Christian is Christlikeness. We are to end this life looking as much like Christ as possible so that when people see you and me, they are seeing Him. For some of us, that is going to take a lot of discipline!
When God begins to sand those rough and pointy edges of your heart and character it is great cause for rejoicing, for it is another identification of belonging to Him! (Heb. 12:7-8)