“Behold, I send my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts. But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap; he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, till they present right offerings to the LORD.” (Malachi 3:1-3 RSVA)
The whole concept of fiery trials being necessary to make us mature individuals has, for the most part, been lost on a generation whose parents cut their teeth on Timothy Leary’s teaching of “If it feels good, do it” and Dr. Benjamin Spock’s seditious book on raising children without firm correction when they needed it,” least we hurt their little psyches.” Thinking ourselves wise, we have become a nation of fools. In the book of Hebrews we read:
And have you forgotten the exhortation which addresses you as sons?– “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor lose courage when you are punished by him. For the Lord disciplines him whom he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers to discipline us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time at their pleasure, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant; later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:5-11 RSVA)
When was the last time you heard a pulpiteer preach from this text or an educator stress the need for discipline in the classroom?
When I was a teenager my parents made me be home by 9 PM and I hated it. I was complaining about it to one of my buddies who had no curfew imposed on him and said, “I wish I had parents like yours and was free to come home when I wanted.” To this he responded something that blew my mind. He said, “At least you KNOW that your parents love you!”
I remember in the early 70’s after coming to Christ, I started going through trials after a fantastic honeymoon period with Jesus being closer in my daily life than I ever knew possible. I wondered why these trials… what had I done? Was God mad at me? It was then I discovered that God uses the personal cross to correct us and to straighten our paths. Then after many months of trials I noticed one day that I had not gone through any for a couple of weeks. All of a sudden I felt insecure and wondered if God was no longer my Father. I had come to see that His chastisement of me was really a sign of His love and that I was NOT illegitimate, but a son.
The trials have continued through the years and often they were very grievous. I shared some of them with a church lady one time and she responded by saying, “I don’t know why you are STILL a Christian!” I am still a follower of Christ because we share a common Father.
“Although he [Jesus] was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered; and being made perfect he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him”
(Hebrews 5:8-9 RSVA)