In every service itself the Father makes the servant fit to carry it out. A person is first disciplined for service, and then in the service he is made fit by it for the character of it. The Father has not readymade servants. He makes them fit for His own service in connection with the race they have to run. The word “chasten” is the same as that used in Ephesians with respect to bringing up children: it is “nurture.” We attach too much the idea of severity, or retribution* to it.

The Father has a different line of things for everyone, and each of us has been sent into this world for some special mission. It is not a question whether it is great or small; it may be only a flower to shed fragrance; though that could be the greatest of all. There is nothing higher than moral influence; “thy whole body . . . full of light”; and this, of the highest moral order, is within the compass of us all. Paul speaks of it in Philippians 1, as the very highest thing to obtain: “Christ shall be magnified in my body whether by life of by death” (1:20).

The great thing to remember is that everyone has to be taught, to be prepared. You do not come forth ready to hand for the Father’s service. Man has not the instinct as animals have; he requires to be educated in natural things; and if he has to be educated for common things, how much more for the Father and spiritual things! How much more does he need to be suited to His hand! It is not mere education of mind, but the instrument must be made and prepared by the Father Himself—growth!

All of us have to be broken down. It is very happy when it is not because of failure like Peter. He was broken down when he found by failure what a wretched creature he was. Jacob had been twenty years in banishment; he was a deceiver himself, and he was ten times deceived: “Whatsoever a man sows that shall he also reap.” But when he was broken, he received the blessing. He is fit for service now; he was not before.

I am crippled, he says, I cannot go on; I am a crippled man. He is finally sensible of his own inability. A broken man is a blessed man. It is most acceptable in the Father’s sight. It is not that He likes my suffering; but He makes me suffer in order to bless and use me. The blessing is more than equivalent to the suffering; much more, Jacob though he halted, had the right side of the thing. I am crippled, he says, but now Thou wilt bless me.

The Father purges on the principle of “we which live are always delivered into death for Jesus’ sake . . . so then death works in us, but life in you “ (2Cor 4:11, 12). In service you are sure to find some kind of pressure on you. It may be on your body, and often is; or it may be persecution; but you will hardly ever have a fruitful field of service before you, unless you are crippled for it. “He purges, that it may bring forth more fruit” (John 15:2).

“Ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaks into you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of Him” (Heb 12:5). These are two things very important. I am not to despise the chastening, like a duck in the rain, indifferent to it, braving as it were everything; neither am I to “faint when . . . rebuked of Him,” like a hen in the rain, which is a miserable object. I am neither to be miserable nor indifferent, but thoughtful and exercised.

- J B Stoney

Poster’s Opinion:
*”the idea of severity, or retribution”: With the Christian, the Father never punishes, as if in trouble with Him, but rather corrects in love (i.e. Pro 3:11, 12) and with the foreknowledge that the one being chastised will properly receive the intended teaching in the correction.

“‘Not I, but Christ.’ The Lord Jesus does not ask that we should work for Him, but He intends to work through us. There is all the difference in the world between the two. In the one I plan and then ask His blessing upon it; in the other He plans and lets me into the secret of His glorious purpose. The one ends in futility and disappointment; the other in life, progress, and joy.

“In the one I slave and work worthily for Him, and constantly feel the barrenness of a busy life; in the other I let His life flow through me in all His glorious effortlessness, and rest in the assurance that the Lord Jesus at work cannot fail. The one is a life of endeavor, always being keyed up to do something greater; the other a life of faith always looking to the Lord Jesus to reveal the next step and then give the enablement to carry it out.” -H.G.

“The great question is not what you are doing, how successful you are, how great are your crowds, how impressive your work—but the question is, by what power are you doing it?” -MJS