Thursday, February 16, 2012

February: Month of Love

February is often called the ‘Month of Love’.  During this month, many sermons and lessons will be preached extolling the wonder of God’s love.  Undoubtedly, at the heart of these messages will be passages of Scripture like John 3:16 and Romans 5:8.  However, when did you last hear a sermon about God’s love presented from Hebrews 12:3ff?  Speaking of God’s parental, disciplining love, Hebrews declares:
For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin. And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons:
“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.”
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. Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. 11 Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
God’s parental or disciplining love presents a different side to this favorite topic of our, doesn’t it?  According to Hebrews, when God disciplines and corrects us, He, in fact, proves that He loves us and confirms that we are indeed His children!  Much more, when He chastens (i.e., disciplines) us, He does so to benefit us (kind of like my dad saying to me before he spanked me, ‘Son, I am spanking you because I love you and want what is best for you).  In John 15:1ff, Jesus uses the illustration of a vinedresser (in that text, God, our Father), pruning the branches (in that text, genuine believers) in order to cause them to be more fruitful.  Obviously, the point in both passages is the same:  God (the ultimate loving Father) disciplines His children to produce an abundant harvest of righteousness in our lives.
May we not despise His chastening.  May we not lose heart when He rebukes us. Rather, may our prayer be that of the psalmist, “Let the righteous strike me; it shall be a kindness.  And let him rebuke me; it shall be as excellent oil; let my head not refuse it,” (Psalm 141:5).  And may we always remember Solomon’s instruction:  “Do not correct a scoffer, lest he hate you; rebuke a wise man, and he will love you.
 Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a just man, and he will increase in learning, (Proverbs 9:8 – 9).  In Jesus’ love, David

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