Unlike other religions, ours is a relationship with a Living God. He says that we’ve been adopted into His family as sons and daughters whom He loves. His love for us is so profound that I think we’ll be realizing new aspects of it for all of eternity.
In natural relationships, any good parent would correct their child in love when they do wrong to keep them from getting hurt or from hurting others. In Hebrews 12, the Bible says that our Heavenly Father does the same. It says that whom the Lord loves, He chastens or disciplines. Now, of all the words used to describe love, discipline is not usually anywhere near the top of that list. The words discipline or correction often carry with them a sense of shame or fear. In your mind, you might think of scenarios of punishment, of ways you’ve been corrected in the past, or remind yourself of all the times you’ve done wrong. These things come from our experience with flawed human beings–whether ourselves or others. But God–our Heavenly and perfect Father–views your life with only the best intentions.
See, shame and fear are not things that God possesses. Instead, His love is patient and kind; it is not self-seeking or boastful; it does not keep record of wrongs. His love sees us through a lens of full potential–because that is how He made us.
In Hebrews 4, the Bible talks about the word of God–that it is living and powerful and how it sees to the very core of who we are. It says that it discerns the thoughts and intents of our heart and that nothing is hidden from His sight. I don’t know about you, but that can sound a little scary to me. Am I really ready to be fully seen and fully known by a holy and perfect God? That thought can make me cringe at the things that He might see in me. If I didn’t already have a relationship with Him and have a track record of trust with His character, it might even make me want to run away and hide from Him. But the verses in Hebrews 4 continue on to say, “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
The fact is that God is holy and His holiness does reveal our absolute need for a savior. He is a perfect God and He does require us to live a life worthy of our calling in Him. But He is simultaneously compassionate and merciful and full of grace. He is so kind that He reveals the areas of our lives that are hurting us and keeping us back from the abundant life that He has for us. His correction does not belittle us; it expands us and invites us into a better way of living.
1 John 4:18-19 says, “We need have no fear of someone who loves us perfectly; his perfect love for us eliminates all dread of what he might do to us. If we are afraid, it is for fear of what he might to do us and shows that we are not fully convinced that he really loves us. So you see, our love for him comes as a result of him loving us first.” (TLB) He loves you so much that He only wants the very best for you. He is always leading your life in a good direction. He actually wants better for you than you even want for yourself!
Ephesians 3:17-20 says, “That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us…” (NKJV)
If you have a relationship with God, His spirit is inside of you helping you to trust in His love. All we have to do is receive and respond to that love and trust that He is better and more trustworthy than we can even imagine.
This week, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you how you see Him as your heavenly Father. If you have seen Him as a harsh man who punishes bad behavior with shame or who demands more of you than you can give–ask Him for forgiveness and to show you what He’s really like.
If you’re feeling brave, ask Him to correct you in areas where you’re not living up to your full potential in Him. Remember that He is a good and kind Father who loves you, He is Jesus who understands your weakness, and He is Holy Spirit within you helping you, comforting you, and empowering you every single step of the way.
Katie Stansfield is passionate about raising up healthy people so that they can lead well. She does this as a staff pastor and administrator at Giving Light in Elizabethville, PA. Giving Light offers a safe and empowering culture of honor and validation to their local community as well as a wealth of equipping tools and resources through their online platform: www.givinglight.org.
With a practical, down-to-earth style, Katie believes that whether speaking in front of a crowd, or creating strategies behind a desk, we were created to be change-makers and forerunners in today’s world. She believes in tearing down personal and societal barriers so that we can model and lead successful and healthy lives and cultures.
In addition, Katie leads Giving Light’s prophetic ministry and has a strong conviction that when we can hear and obey the voice of God without fear, we can change the world for good.