October 27, 2012

Disciplined children

In public places, I sometimes see a child behaving badly but receiving no correction. I suppose these days, young parents fear repercussions or are of the mindset that discipline is not politically correct. Many of them are more worried about “what will people think?” than they are about what lack of discipline does to their children. In my opinion, correcting bad behavior is a sign of love.

I’ve often told the story of the most popular girl in high school telling me that she envied me and my sister because “your parents love you enough to discipline you.” If she figured that out, could it be that the wild antics of some children are attempts to gain a show of love? For some, a spanking is better than being ignored.

That said, I’m not a great fan of being disciplined, at least when people do it. Their motivations vary, but most are prompted to correct me out of their own desire to feel superior, or a desire to get me out of their space. On the other hand, God is not like that.

And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “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.” It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. (Hebrews 12:5–8)

The Lord disciplines me because He loves me too much to leave me the way that I am. Selfishness and sinful behavior does not make me a better person. He cares that I grow in character and goodness, that I become more like Jesus. His discipline is actually a sign or mark that I belong to Him. 

God disciplines several ways. The one I prefer is a rebuke from His Word. This is much easier than a slap on the side of the head. However, He rarely gives me a boot (figuratively) without hugging me at the same time. 

He can also discipline through the consequences of bad behavior. If I will not learn one way, He will persist using some other way to teach me the folly of whatever I might be doing. He follows up with correction so that I will learn how to behave in better ways.

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the (child) of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16–17)

I’ve thought many times that if God didn’t care about what I do, I would not worship Him. Like my classmate in high school, I know that discipline is an indication that I am loved and a pathway to becoming complete.

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