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The Gift of Correction: Glorying in God's Guidance

‘My child, don’t make light of the Lord’s discipline, and don’t give up when He corrects you. For the Lord disciplines those He loves, and He punishes each one He accepts as His child’

- Hebrews 12:5-6 -


The goal of every believer should be to walk in the light they’ve been given and to grow toward perfection as defined by Scripture. Paul addresses this, writing: ‘I don't mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me’ (Phil. 3:12). In Scripture, “perfect” means to be complete, to develop to its end, or to reach full maturity. As saints, we are called to perfection, which means God has called us to run the race and finish the course, fully matured into Christlikeness.

 

 

We need to understand that Scripture isn’t talking about perfecting the flesh, but about spiritual perfection; a heart perfected toward the things of God. Hear the wisdom of Hanani the seer: “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward Him” (2 Chron. 16:9). A perfect heart is a heart fully committed to God. Don’t get sidetracked trying to perfect the flesh in order to be perfect in God’s eyes. For as Samuel says: “People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7).


All who walk in the light are wholehearted toward God. It is the halfhearted and lukewarm whom God will spew out of His mouth (Rev. 3:15-16). Being halfhearted is what makes us imperfect, not the theology diploma missing from our shelves or sins committed in the past. God doesn’t look at our flaws and mistakes if we confess them to Him. Rather, He looks at the condition of our heart. If we’re striving to seek, please, and follow Him, God will look at us and call us perfect in Christ.



Jesus teaches from the mount: “Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matt. 5:48). The Amplified Bible puts it this way: “You, therefore, will be perfect [growing into spiritual maturity both in mind and character, actively integrating godly values into your daily life], as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Even if we can’t quite grasp this spiritual leap, we must accept our sanctification by faith. Jesus also says: “A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher” (Luke 6:40). The reason we follow the Master is because we want to be like the Master. We want to be perfect as He is perfect. The path to perfection is a daily journey where we grow and strive to be more and more like Jesus. It may sound tough, and it can be, but above all it is glorious and joyful to behold God transforming us day by day.

 

It is easy to follow a God who makes no demands on us to change our sinful ways and strive toward perfection. But this is not the God of the Bible. We come to Jesus as we are, but that doesn’t mean we stay that way. God hates sin, and so should we. Immediately, we should embark on the path to Christlike perfection. The psalmist says: ‘The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delights in his way’ (37:23). We please our Father when we wholeheartedly join the path to perfection. And when (not if) we miss the mark, we keep on moving forward in repentance, secure in the knowledge that ‘if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous’ (1 John 2:1).


 

Yes, Christ is there to forgive us. He is by our side loving us, encouraging us and, when necessary, correcting us. We must realize that there is no shame in being corrected by the Lord as it evidences His great love for us. As it is written: ‘My child, don’t make light of the Lord’s discipline, and don’t give up when He corrects you. For the Lord disciplines those He loves, and He punishes each one He accepts as His child’ (Heb. 12:5-6). Only the halfhearted are insulted by correction and respond with denial and anger. Arrogance and pride blinds them to the love on display, even though God’s correction helps light the narrow path that we must walk with Christ.

 

Wrong doctrines and sinful temptations forever try to knock us off course. If we aren’t corrected, we won’t reach our destination. And how far off course we are determines how much correction we need. If we’re on the straight and narrow path, then little correction is needed. But if we’re way off course, God’s blessed correction will likely feel harsh or traumatic. As a murderous adulterer, David suffers a major correction when Nathan confronts him (2 Sam. 12:1-15). The good news is David receives this correction and repents, modeling how all believers ought to react.


How we handle correction depends on how we view it. Is it good or bad? Is it given to help or just condemn? The wholehearted take correction as a good gift from the Lord, while the halfhearted avoid it like a plague. God corrects because He loves us in truth. The truth is not always pleasant, but it’s truth that sets us free. All who shun truth stay trapped in their immaturity. Their house is built on sinking sand. When the rain falls and the winds blow, their lives will collapse and great will be their fall (Matt. 7:24-27).



People like to talk about God’s love for us, but rarely His correction. Yet the two go hand-in-hand. He loves us, so He’s going to correct us. As we endure this divine discipline, we must ‘remember that God is treating [us] as His own children. Who ever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father? If God doesn’t discipline you as He does all of His children, it means that you are illegitimate and are not really His children at all’ (Heb. 12:7-8). It takes a humble heart to receive holy correction. As a manifestation of God’s love for us, it should be received with opened arms. This doesn’t mean it will feel joyful. It won’t, at least not right away. ‘Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but grievous; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it’ (Heb. 12:11). Just remember, it’s by correction and repentance that we attain Christlike perfection. This should be the goal of every born-again believer.

 

Jesus famously says: “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matt. 11:29). His heart is humble, and when we yield to Him, we start to become like Him. Humility is gentle, obedient, and forever faithful, but it takes correction to get there. Pride often stops us accepting correction, but, as Solomon teaches, ‘Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall’ (Prov. 16:18). Scripture warns that it will not go well with those who reject correction, as the Lord only has what’s best in mind for us, even if it hurts.



Correction is not condemnation. God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world. God corrects because He loves. He wants to have close, intimate fellowship with us. Jesus tells the woman caught in adultery: “Go and sin no more” (John 8:11). He corrects her without condemning, telling her to do what is best for her. We ought not despise those who correct us in such godly fashion. They are ministering on Christ’s behalf. So humble yourself, take a breath, and prayerfully weigh what they say. Then ask the Lord to put you back on the path to perfection. Our God is eager to forgive those whose hearts seek after Him.

 

Rejoice at correction. It means we’re that much closer to being like Christ. Those who don’t receive the Lord’s correction will eventually be rebuked by Him, which is far worse. The writer of Hebrews says: ‘Let us lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily ensnares us’ (12:1). This is something we should do, but if we can’t or simply won’t, God steps in with correction. God loves us so much that He is unwilling to leave us in the condition we’re currently in. Hear Jesus: “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit” (John 15:1-2). Even if our walk with Christ is flourishing and bearing much fruit, corrective pruning is still taking place. Why is that? So we can bear more fruit. If our primary desire is to be used by God, then get ready for some pruning! He’ll point out things in us that have to change; things that slow us down and stop us from doing more for His kingdom.



It’s foolish to think we can reach a point in life where correction is no longer needed. There’s always sin to get rid of and obstacles to remove. Only when they’re dealt with can our kingdom productivity rise. This is why godly correction should be desired and not despised. Paul writes: ‘We will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of His body, the church’ (Eph. 4:15). We are to be a light in a dark world. People are to see what Jesus is like by the things we say and do. If we’re not acting like God’s agents on the earth, then there are things we need to be corrected on. Eliphaz tells Job: “Behold, happy is the man whom God corrects; therefore do not despise the chastening of the Almighty” (5:17). Correction delivers us from the bondage of doing things the wrong way. All good things come at a cost, and the benefits of correction are well worth the cost of going through them.

 

We are wise to ask who should correct whom? Just who has the right to speak godly correction into the life of another? Aaron and Miriam try to correct Moses in Numbers 12 and pay a heavy price. We must pause before correcting spiritual elders who are over us in the Lord. Even if we disagree on some points, we must respect that God ordains their authority. So Paul says: ‘Dear brothers and sisters, honor those who are your leaders in the Lord’s work. They work hard among you and give you spiritual guidance. Show them great respect and wholehearted love because of their work. And live peacefully with each other’ (1 Thess. 5:12-13). Part of spiritual guidance is godly correction. God means for spiritual leaders to correct those in their care; not the other way around.

 

Those in leadership are anointed by God to fulfill that calling. This applies to pastors in the church and husbands in the home. This isn’t sexism. No man is necessarily better than any woman, but God choses husbands to lead the home in godly love (1 Cor. 11:13), and what a responsibility that is. We are called to respect position, even if, at times, we don’t respect the person. The same is true of our bosses at work and those in government. God ordains them to lead and correct. Then, if we listen to those above us more each day, we will find ourselves growing into Christ’s perfection. No, it’s not always easy, but it’s the only path that leads to perfection.



Peter extorts believers, saying: ‘After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself restore, strengthen, confirm, and ground you’ (1 Pet. 5:10). Perfection comes as we learn to endure rebellious temptations, but our God has the power to ground us. To reject God’s correction, even if it stings, is to reject His love. The sobering truth is we can wait too long to heed God’s reproofs and repent.


Hebrews warns us of just this: ‘Make sure that no one is immoral or godless like Esau, who traded his birthright as the firstborn for a single meal. You know that afterward, when he wanted his father’s blessing, he was rejected. It was too late for repentance, even though he begged with bitter tears’ (Heb. 12:16-17). We can kneel at the altar and cry our eyes out, but weeping is in vain without true change, so Jesus warns the Ephesian church: “Look how far you have fallen! Turn back to Me and do the works you did at first. If you don’t repent, I will come and remove your lampstand from its place among the churches” (Rev. 2:5). Sobering words indeed.

 

Jesus goes on to say: “I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent” (Rev. 2:21). Our gracious God give us windows of time to receive correction and repent. The hard truth is if we don’t change in His time frame, we will lose our shot at renewal. So heed to godly correction. Wage war in your souls against the wrong you’re doing. Cling to God to turn your life around. He will carry you on the road to perfection.


 

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