19 “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.”
As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten.
Jesus rebukes and chastens us because He loves us. All [“as many as’] Jesus’ discipline emanates from love. We should never infer that because we receive discipline from Him that He does not love us. He loves us unconditionally, unadulteratedly, and in an undiminished sense. There are no strings attached to His love. Jesus says, “When I rebuke your tepid hearts, I do it for your good. If I left you on your course of destruction, I would be like the mother who does not keep her child from harm.”
The word “rebuke” means to confute, refute. To rebuke someone is more than telling them their faults, it is of convicting them of their of sin (Jn 8:46; 16:8; 1 Co 14:24). Here Jesus rebukes by action rather than by His mouth. He will bring to light and expose the sin of the Laodiceans. He will demonstrate and prove conclusively that they are off base spiritually. People will not argue otherwise for He will convince them without question. After Jesus cross-examines us with the kind of questions He can ask, no one will challenge Him. We will stand patently guilty. He will bring convincing proof of this.
“Chasten” means primarily to train children. We train children by our words or corporeal punishment. This is their first and basic form of education. God trains His children as well (He 12:6, 7, 10). A basic idea behind “chastening” is correction, or guidance. This instruction has to do with the purpose of forming proper habits of behavior (Ac 7:22). Ephesians 6:4 uses this “chasten” for training children.
Therefore be zealous and repent
Jesus challenges the Laodicean church to be “zealous.” This word means to be eager, earnest. Jesus wants them to be deeply committed to His values with the accompanying desire to do it. He wants them to set their heart on His plan for them.
If we do not go positive signals to Jesus discipline in our lives, then we will head into spiritual ruin. We need to take His rebuke and chastening as from His love. Better is the wounds of a friend than the flattery of an enemy.
The word “repent” is literally to perceive afterwards. This implies changes after previously thinking about something. This is the basis of moral and spiritual choice of values. Repentance is a complete change of view and way of life as a result of looking at what Jesus values. The English conveys the idea of sorrow or contrition but the Greek does not necessarily portray this idea. The Greek idea is more on total change in thought and behavior based on a fundamental change in terminal values, the values of God (Lk 3.8, He 6.1, and Ac 26.20). The Greek indicates that we are to make a decision decisively. “Do not delay. Come to grips with this immediately.”
To repent is not to vow that we will never do it again. Neither is it a promise to do better next time. It is not a promise to serve the Lord. It does not mean that we have to crawl our way back to God. Nor is repentance a guilt complex whereby we feel bad about sins. All these things are legalistic ways of trying to get God’s approval. They are attempts at paying for our sin by self rather than trusting what God did for our sins. We have God’s approval because of what Jesus did on the cross.
God always disciplines the church because He loves the church.
The modern church is typically unconscious of its spiritual needs. It deals more in buildings and programs rather than in the reality of what Jesus offers. Jesus penetrates this fallacy by rebuking and even chastening the church for this.
He 12: 4 “You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin. 5 And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons:
‘My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord,
Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him;
6 For whom the Lord loves He chastens,
And scourges every son whom He receives.’
7 If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? 8 But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. 9 Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. 11 Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”
Jesus in context talks about disciplining churches that step out of fellowship. Repentance is the answer to a lukewarm attitude toward Christ. The purpose of all discipline is to bring the church or believer back into fellowship with the Lord Jesus.
When a Christian turns back to fellowship with the Lord Jesus, God immediately turns suffering into blessing. He takes the pain that we suffering for our sin and produces blessing in our lives. If we fail to restore fellowship with the Lord, then we carry misery with us. The most obnoxious believers in the world are those who know Christ but are out of fellowship with Him. Many of them wonder why God allows certain things to happen to them. They are oblivious to God’s purposes in suffering.
When Christians stay out of fellowship for a long period, they develop self-inflicted grief. When the combination of God’s discipline and self-inflicted misery comes together, then you have a very wretched person. Carnal Christians are very miserable people. The issue here is not the people who stay out of fellowship for a short while, but these are people who go into prolonged alienation from God.
The Christian can do nothing to destroy God’s love for them. No matter how carnal they may become, no matter how long they remain carnal, God still loves them. Although God may inflict misery upon us and we may inflict misery upon ourselves, we need to remember that we are not persona non grata with God. He loves us through it all.
Above all, we need to change our mind about our most basic value of all — the value of staying in fellowship with Jesus personally.