In June 1833, the Lord provided corrective feedback to church members in Kirtland, Ohio. He opened the revelation with the following explanation:
Verily, thus saith the Lord unto you whom I love, and whom I love I also chasten that their sins may be forgiven, for with the chastisement I prepare a way for their deliverance in all things out of temptation, and I have loved you—
Wherefore, ye must needs be chastened and stand rebuked before my face.Doctrine and Covenants 95:1-2
The important thing about this description is the role of the Lord in the chastening process. He is not detached or ambivalent. He is very much invested in our growth and improvement. His chastening is motivated by love and is coupled with assistance to help us respond.
The apostle Paul reminded church members not to be discouraged when they were chastened. He quoted the following proverb:
My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord; neither be weary of his correction:
For whom the Lord loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.Proverbs 3:11-12
Paul went on to say, “If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?” (Hebrews 12:5-7).
The Greek word translated “chasten” in this passage is paideuó (παιδεύω), which is derived from the word pais (παῖς), meaning “child.” To chasten someone is basically to parent them: to guide them as you would a growing child who needs structure and training to help them achieve their full potential. In other words, there is a positive outcome implied in the word “chasten.” It is not the same as criticism, censure, or condemnation, because it has an explicitly constructive goal: the growth and maturation of the recipient.
When Samuel the Lamanite spoke to the people of Zarahemla, he emphasized the same principle. He wanted them to understand that the adversity they had experienced was evidence of God’s love for them:
The people of Nephi hath he loved, and also hath he chastened them; yea, in the days of their iniquities hath he chastened them because he loveth them.Helaman 15:3
Elder Taniela B. Wakolo recently reminded us of this principle:
Sometimes God manifests His love by chastening us. It is a way of reminding us that He loves us and that He knows who we are. His promised blessing of peace is open to all those who courageously walk the covenant path and are willing to receive correction.
When we recognize the chastening and are willing recipients, it becomes a spiritual surgery. Who likes surgery, by the way? But to those who need it and are willing to receive it, it can be lifesaving. The Lord chastens whom He loves. The scriptures tell us so (see Hebrews 12:5–11; Helaman 12:3; Doctrine and Covenants 1:27; 95:1). That chastening, or spiritual surgery, will bring about needed change in our lives. We will realize, brothers and sisters, that it refines and purifies our inner vessels.“God Loves His Children,” General Conference, April 2021
Today, I will receive correction well. I will avoid becoming defensive and resisting calls to change by remembering that correction is a vital part of my education and development. I will strive to see chastening from God as evidence of His love for me.