Originally posted January 6, 2009:
We have a saying in the football locker-room: "Bug the ones you like!" You have to have thick skin in a locker-room. Teammates are constantly poking fun, mocking, teasing, fooling, and bothering one another. But it is important to remember that if someone is "ragging" on you, it is probably because he likes you. Conversely, if someone doesn't bother you with jibes and jesting, it may well be because he doesn't care for you all that much.
God takes a similar, yet pure and undefiled, approach to things as seen in Hebrews 12: 6 which reads: For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives (ESV). So, on the football team we bug the ones we like whereas God disciplines the ones He loves. And NOT being disciplined by God should cause us to fear because "If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons." (Hebrews 6:8, ESV)
It is with that in mind that I share some gleanings from A. W. Pink's book Comfort for Christians. Pink has a chapter on divine chastisement in which he elucidates some of the differences between punishment and chastisement. Pink starts by offering three distinctions between the two: God's role, the recipients, the design. These distinctions are important because "The difference between punishment and chastisement lies not in the nature of the sufferings of the afflicted" (p.41).
God metes out punishment in the life of non-believers as a Judge. But in the Christian's life, God chastises as a Father. "The Christian occupies an entirely different position from the non-Christian: he is a member of the Family of God" (p.42).
The next distinction can be seen in the recipients of God's punishment and chastisement. The object of God's punishment are His enemies whereas the object of His chastisement are his children.
The distinction between punishment and chastisement can also be clearly seen by considering the design of each. The design of punishment is retributive; the design of chastisement is remedial. "The one flows from His anger, the other from His love. Divine punishment is never sent for the good of sinners, but for the honoring of God’s law and the vindicating of His government. But Divine chastisement is sent for the well-being of His children" (p.42).
A quick word-study was also enlightening: Unhappily there is no word in the English language which is capable of doing justice to the Greek term here. "Paideia" which is rendered "chastening" is only another form of "paidion" which signifies "young children," being the tender word that was employed by the Saviour in John 21:5 and Hebrews 2:13. One can see at a glance the direct connection which exists between the words "disciple" and "discipline": equally close in the Greek is the relation between "children" and "chastening." Son-training would be better. It has reference to God’s education, nurture and discipline of His children. It is the Father’s wise and loving correction. The word study is in reference to Proverbs 3:11-12.