When I was a kid, my dad often used a line on me that I didn’t understand: “I only punish you because I love you!” It didn’t feel like love at the time, but oh how wrong I was!

It’s not that I was particularly bad as a child. I was just stubborn. I loved my father and wanted to please him, but it seemed that I constantly found myself trying to test the boundaries and the limits he had established for my own good and protection. I recall one particular incident from my very early childhood quite vividly.

When I was 5 years old I had a certain wooden rocking horse that I was quite fond of. The only draw back was that it wasn’t quite tall enough. I wanted to be like the cowboys I saw in the movies, riding alongside trains and horse wagons, guns blazing, in hot pursuit of some bandana masked criminal.

The solution to my problem came in the form of an old mahogany chest that my parents kept in the living room, a wedding present from someone in the family. The chest was incredibly heavy. It stood about 2 1/2 feet tall and had a soft felt cushion on its top. Glancing around the room for something for which to set my rocking horse on top of to gain some height, it didn’t take long before I noticed the chest.

Excitedly, I drug my trusty steed over to it and managed to place it on top. Climbing on top of the chest and then into my horse, I vaulted over the lateral bars and slid my feet through the holes in the front and took a seat. Generally, I would say that my parents kept a very watchful eye on me, but this time I somehow managed to sneak one by them. The joy that came from gleefully rocking my horse from my newly elevated position was indescribable. With determination, I zeroed in on the bandit and almost had him in my sights when suddenly my dad showed up to foil the impending shoot out. To this day, I still remember having received a spanking and being sent to my room. Knowing my parents I am sure I also received a lengthy lecture about how dangerous what I was doing was and how I could have been seriously hurt. However, with the taste of the immediate joy I had experienced riding atop my high horse still fresh in my mind it wasn’t long before I was up to my schemes again. A couple days later I went for a second attempt. Little did I know this time the joy would not be quite as sweet and the punishment bitterer. When my mother and father caught me again, I did the worst possible thing I could have done; I smiled.

“Oh no,” my father exclaimed, “You aren’t going to cutesy your way out of this one!” The lesson I learned in all of this is that while sin and disobedience may at first taste sweet, you can “be sure that your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:33). I do not write to impose legalism on anyone, but I thank God that Jesus Christ paid the ultimate price by becoming sin for us. Through His obedience alone have we obtained righteousness! (2 Corinthians 5:21).

However, I believe the Bible is clear that even (perhaps especially) for those of us whom are covered by His righteousness, we will still be chastised for our sins (Hebrews 12:5-8). This Bible verse affirms that we should not despise the chastening of the Lord, as I did my earthly father’s in my time of disobedience, but rather we should be grateful to know that our chastening confirms our salvation and is for our own good. We can rest assured knowing that God disciplines us because He loves us and like any good Father, He always does what is best for us, even if it isn’t enjoyable at the time. His chastening is the process through which we are all being sanctified and transformed into the image of His son, our Lord and savior, Jesus Christ.

My brothers and sisters in Christ, strive in all things to be righteous and holy, but when you do slip up, I urge you to not despise the Lord’s chastening, but instead to embrace it as we do all things that we know to be good for us.

Zach Liston