So it will be a reproach, a reviling, a warning and an object of horror to the nations who surround you when I execute judgments against you in anger, wrath and raging rebukes. I, the LORD, have spoken.
I have written before on the possibility that God’s people may be used as examples, but this verse caught my attention this morning. It is one thing for God to use His people as an example in the blessings they receive. It is another to use them as an example as they go through difficulties and trials which are not due to any wrong they may have committed. It is another thing entirely that is mentioned in this verse. In this verse, God asserts that He uses even the discipline leveled at those who are His own.
This is a comforting idea. I know it does not sound like it should be comforting, but it is. I mean, I am not perfect and there are times that God must discipline me in order to correct my behavior. I prefer to listen and learn without the disciplinary action being taken, but my thick skull and my preference for the gentler forms of instruction are at odds with one another. So it is that there are times when God must discipline me. And I deserve it. And God is righteous and just in doing as He does.
But that discipline extends outward.
While I receive the instruction meant for me, others look on and learn about the character of God and how He deals with those He loves and whether or not anyone escapes the consequences of their actions. He is shown to be a loving Father; One Who disciplines His children so they are not unholy terrors. My daughter and I went to Target a few days ago and she wanted to walk around out of the cart. The condition was that she obey my instructions and stay near me. She eventually, as is almost always the case, wandered off and stopped listening to my instructions and she was placed in the cart with the seat belt on to her considerable aggravation. My fellow parents and more than a few shoppers noted that she had been disciplined and gave me approving looks; some even grateful. We all know how annoying it is for an unruly child to run amok in a store, so we are all grateful when the parent takes suitable action. As with the lesser (me), so with the greater (God). When His children get unruly and He takes action, it is seen as a good thing by those who would otherwise were adversely impacted by the actions of those children. It is also a telling sign of which people claiming to be His children truly are. The Bible says, in no uncertain terms, that God disciplines His children. If we do not see God’s discipline in the life of a person who claims to be His child, then their claim is doubtful, at best.
He is shown to be just when even His own children are not allowed to escape the consequences of their actions. We can understand a parent sheltering their own child from consequences. We may not think it right, but we understand it. God allows the consequences through to His children when He could shelter us and it shows the world His righteousness.
God uses even the times when He must discipline me as an example. Yes, He uses my trials. Yes, He uses the times of blessing in my life. He will also use the times when I must be taken out behind the wood shed and disciplined. In fact, those times may prove to be a warning that is taken more seriously than any other example in my life. If God deals thus with His own, how will He deal with those who are not?
Let me accept the discipline of the Lord meekly and learn from it. Let me be mindful that the discipline administered to me may also be a lesson to others.