The Loving Act of Discipline

One of my least favorite aspects of being a parent is having to discipline.  It is not fun, but it is necessary.  I want my children to have self control, integrity, honesty, and obedient hearts.  As they have grown up, when they have crossed one of these lines, it has been necessary for my husband or myself to discipline them.  It is for their good.  Because we love them so much, we want them to choose rightly and we know that the pain of consequences due to discipline in the short term is far better than the consequences that would result if they did not receive correction. Discipline, done correctly, is love in action.

God the creator, in His infinite wisdom, chose to set up human relationships in the structure of family units.  He also uses that system to describe His relationship to believers.  God is our Father.  Jesus is our Savior and Lord, but He is also described as our brother “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;”(Romans 8:29).  What do we know, from experience, to be true of families?  They care for one another, they love one another, they sacrifice for one another, and they discipline their children.  I bet you can think of ways in which all of those statements are true regarding believers relationship to God and Jesus.  I want to focus on that last one, discipline.  Proverbs 3:12 tells us “For whom the LORD loves He reproves, Even as a father corrects the son in whom he delights.”  And Hebrews 12:6 says “For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”  If you belong to the Lord, you can expect at times to be disciplined by Him.  It is an affirmation of His divine love for you.

14536964_588841201295392_308806558_oOne of the best examples of divine discipline we have from scripture is God’s loving discipline of Adam and Eve after the fall.  That might be a surprise for some of you, as it was for me.  When I used to think about the garden and the fall, I usually thought of punishment and consequences.   In Genesis 16-19 God lays down some pretty hard consequences as a result of their disobedience: pain in childbearing, desiring to usurp the husband, cursed ground, pain of laboring for food, and death.  But a few verses later, we read of a tender and loving action; loving discipline. Genesis 3:22-24 Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—” therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.”  Because Adam and Eve disobeyed and ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they were fallen.  If they had stayed in the garden, and eaten from the tree of life, they would live forever in a fallen state.  So God, because of His love for them, disciplined them by sending them out of the garden, not allowing them to return.  It was a consequence of their disobedience, yes.  But it was also a merciful loving action for their ultimate good.  Aren’t you glad that we have such a good and loving Father?  You can trust Him, even when its hard.

Soli Deo Gloria!

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