The word “discipline” rarely has a positive connotation attached to it because it usually means you’re in trouble. You probably even had an idea of what this blog was about before you even read it! The first definition that came up when I searched for it was “punishment.” That’s usually what we think of, right? Covering your rear and running after you did something wrong, or the belt, wooden spoon, rod; take your pick. Or maybe you were grounded from things you loved like playing outside, video games, or TV. Whatever it was, it was something you wouldn’t like because, let’s be honest, who likes to get punished? I wanted to bring this topic to light because I feel like it’s something that we struggle with as Christians. But more than that I want to discuss discipline in light of God and how it relates us.
You might have some pretty upsetting thoughts that come to mind when the word discipline is said or mentioned. For me, my dad was the disciplinary and was fond of spankings and time outs like most typical parents. But I am very aware that there are some that had it much worse than just spankings or slaps on the hand, which is why, being disciplined send shivers up your spine or even evokes anger or tears. Regardless of your views on discipline and how it’s used, it’s all done for a specific purpose; to “correct” an “incorrect” behavior. The difference is the motive behind the person disciplining the other party. Some discipline to demonstrate dominance or stature; others do it to help the person make wiser choices further down the road out of love.
I don’t want to go down the road of right and wrong of corporal punishment, but I do want to talk about how God, the Father disciplines us, and his motives behind it.
Too often we take God’s discipline towards us as Him being angry at us when really it’s about Him wanting us to make the right decision. It’s a pride issue. We are too prideful to admit fault, and when consequence comes knocking at our door we are surprised at its arrival. It should be no surprise that there are consequences for the sins we commit, but it’s NOT consequences that are harmful to us but an act of removal of choices that lead us to that sin in the first place.
“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
nor be weary when reproved by him.
For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and chastises every son whom he receives.”
Hebrews 12:5-6 (also Proverbs 3:11-12)
The Lord is here to forgive us and to lead us to healing and growth as Christians. He desires to see us succeed, not to fail. We need to start accepting God’s discipline as a tool for growth and stop thinking that God is punishing us just because He can. Discipline is a gift, and a something that can only make us stronger. Without discipline we are wandering aimlessly without a path to guide us to Christ-like living. God will use testing, trials, and various predicaments to bring us back to Himself in repentance. The result of His discipline is a stronger faith and a renewed relationship with God. We have a Father and a Savior who sacrificed everything for us to live in mercy and grace. It’s a tough pill to swallow, even for myself, but we will reap many more benefits when we begin to accept God’s discipline as love from a father who deeply cares to see us win!