Discipline Is not Punishment.
I’ve noticed that Americans are very sloppy with the words we write and speak. We say that we love our child, and we love ice cream. Just this one sentence has probably earned enormous sums of money for therapists. Consider these conversations:
Adult: Why did my Dad love me like ice cream?
Therapist: Perhaps he wished you would melt away.
And then we have a problem with speaking. What we say is barely comprehensible from the written words.
Written: “James, be sure to wash your hands today.”
Spoken: “Jimmy, be sure to warsh yer hands ta-day.”
We all have certain misspoken words that literally drive us nuts. 😉 It’s like fingernails on a chalkboard when we hear “worshed” instead of “washed.” My pet peeve is when people say “ta-marrow” instead of “tomorrow.” It’s painful for me to hear Annie in “Annie, the Musical” sing, “Ta-morrow! Ta-marrow. I love ya ta-marrow! You’re only a day away!” And, how many times have you heard someone say punish when they meant discipline?
Mom: “Jimmy, this is the last time I’ll clean candy out of your jeans pocket! They went through the wash today and left a gooey mess. You will scrape that mess out and then handwash your jeans as your punishment.”
Dad: “Jimmy, that was a bonehead thing to do. If you do it again, your mother will kill you.”
With our language being as wonky as it is, it’s easy to mix up the meaning of words when we read the Bible. Mom didn’t mean punishment; she meant discipline. On the other hand, Dad implied punishment but not a capital offense.
Compare these two verses:
“Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.” 1 John 4:18 (New Living Translation)
“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?” Hebrews 12:7 (New Living Translation).
We are promised by God that if we are His child, we no longer face His punishment. Because God is our Father, He disciplines us. All discipline is love in action with an expectation of improvement. No one disciples a pet or a kid if they don’t love them. All discipline is intended to help, to guide, to nurture. How can we not rejoice in God’s discipline? Discipline is not punishment.
There is a day when judgment will come. On that day, God will hate everyone who rejected His sacrifice, Jesus, the sacrificial Lamb. These people will not receive discipline. They will receive eternal, unending punishment. God will not expect their improvement. Each will bow before Jesus, but their bow is the surrender of the conquered, not the bow of worship.
So, praise God! The love we enjoy from our Father has no fear, and all discipline is His love in action. He has expectations for us. That’s exciting! Who does He see when He looks at us? Oh God, bring your discipline. Help us to be that person You see in us!!
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