“My son, do not despise the LORD's discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the LORD reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights. Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding, for the gain from her is better than gain from silver and her profit better than gold.”-Pro 3:11-14
“Besides this, it is needful that our most merciful Father should not only anticipate our weakness but also correct past transgressions so that he may keep us in lawful obedience to himself. Accordingly, whenever we are afflicted, remembrance of our past life ought immediately to come to mind; so we shall doubtless find that we have committed something deserving of this sort of chastisement. And yet, exhortation to forbearance is not to be based principally upon the recognition of sin. Therefore, also, in the very harshness of tribulations we must recognize the kindness and generosity of our Father toward us, since he does not even then cease to promote our salvation. For he afflicts us not to ruin or destroy us but, rather, to free us from the condemnation of the world.”
Calvin brings a sobering and convicting word to us in this passage. Sobering and convicting words are necessary, but not always sought with eagerness. Calvin is being a good friend to us today by telling us hard truth that we need to hear.
The hard thing that Calvin is telling us is this: we deserve God’s chastisement, particularly for our past sin. The actual thing that most of us believe today is this: that we deserve God’s love and blessing. The former is true and the latter is false.
We buck harder against His Fatherly discipline when we are living as if we are entitled to His favor, and to all earthly favor as well. A spirit of entitlement is the polar opposite of a humble spirit. If we lack humility, we will think we know better than God, dethrone Him, and enthrone ourselves in His place, so to speak. “Who is He to chastise us? We created Him in our image. He must obey us!” says the one lacking humility.
God afflicts us not only because of our past sin, but also to keep us unstained from the world. By “world” Calvin doesn’t mean all that is in non-spiritual realm. Physicality is good. He means the sinful, God-hating, self-exalting, hateful, and entitled attitudes and actions found in those outside the Kingdom of God. God’s purifying affliction serves our good and His glory.
The key nugget of application from today’s passage: God’s kindness and generosity is hidden within harsh tribulations. Search for that treasure today through the tears, pain, and sorrow. (Justin)