The Lord disciplines whomever he loves, and he punishes every son or daughter whom he accepts. – Hebrews 12:6
Throughout my years in ministry, there would be people who seemed to stand out because of their character, conviction, compassion, and courage—the 4 “c’s”. And occasionally one of these saints would say something, or forward something on Facebook, that would make me stop and ask, “Where did that come from?” It was as if an ugly stain appeared on their angelically white robe.
It really shouldn’t be surprising. We all have those spots in our spirits which we may not be aware of, and that others assume aren’t there. But they are. I shudder to imagine how I’ve said and done things that made others ask, “Where did that come from?”
Yet, really, why should we be surprised? We’re works in progress, or we wouldn’t be here. As Martin Luther observed, “This life, therefore, is not godliness but the process of becoming godly, not health but getting well, not being but becoming, not rest but exercise.”
That’s what the writer of Hebrews is getting at in this verse about God “disciplining” and “punishing.” They seem out of character for a loving God, but sometimes it’s the experience of pain that makes a lasting impression and prevents us from making the same mistakes.
Those times when we are confronted by our own exposed inner prejudices or past words/actions that hurt people: such times are painful and they stick with you. Such disciplining is good and shows you’re on the right spiritual track. Indeed, if you don’t feel pain, what does that say?
I hope we each have the grace to ask ourselves, “Where did that come from?” then follow it with, “Now what am I going to do?”