My daughter is almost a year old, and she’s reached the point of testing limits. She knows what ‘no’ means, but she’ll still look at me and then reach out to grab whatever object she shouldn’t – like our dog’s ball which should NOT go in her mouth.
A few days ago, she started pulling on a tray table that could very easily fall on her. So, the firm no was stated. She grabbed again. A firmer no and small swat. She grabbed again. A firmer no and small swat again. She grabbed again. This time, I had to swat a little harder. She cried briefly (think like 2 seconds) and then stopped attempting to grab it. Minutes later, my husband pointed out that her arm was a little red where I’d had to swat her. She was fine; happy and unbothered by the mark. I, on the other hand, nearly burst into tears. I did NOT want to cause her pain, but I knew that the pain I had to administer was far less pain than that of the table crashing down on her head.
That’s part of my job, right? Keeping her from danger. Keeping her safe. Teaching her the safe perimeters through which she should navigate her life. Disciplining, even when it hurts me, if it will teach her things that will keep her safe and from danger. While it was unpleasant for me, it was necessary. It was for her own good. This is just the beginning, but all discipline will come from that same thinking. It isn’t easy or pleasant for mommy to do, but you need it. Mommy wants you to be safe. Mommy wants you to live! Mommy wants what is best for you, always.
Our Father, our Perfect, Amazing, Almighty, Wonderful Father is the ultimate example of a loving, discipling Parent. He isn’t just trying to keep us from having tables crash on our heads, though. His law and His rules are meant to keep us safe from the fires of hell; to keep us from the horror of an everlasting punishment created for the devil and his angels. His laws aren’t put in place as a means to box us in; His laws aren’t strict to give us a burdened life. His rules are in place so that we can have an abundant life; so that we can keep ourselves from hell!
Some people claim that a loving God wouldn’t have rules. Ha! Only a god who hated us wouldn’t have rules. If God knew that doing certain things (see 1 Cor. 6:9-10) would separate us from Him, but He didn’t tell us to keep ourselves from those things, what hope would we have? If God didn’t tell us the rules to keep, we wouldn’t be able to come up with them on our own! We wouldn’t know how to keep ourselves from hell. We would simply be living like the people in Noah’s day; doing what we thought was right, but ultimately was leading us down a dark, destructive path.
Our Loving God does have rules. He has commandments that we must keep, but only because He loves us so much. And, having commandments for us to follow isn’t the extent of the great love He’s shown. He actually sent His Only Begotten Son to die for us so that we could join Him in heaven one day. What great love our Father has! He has truly given us everything (James 1:17).
When we stray from His commands, we must be disciplined. If He didn’t discipline us (or use the church to discipline us), would He really love us? I say no. Discipline shows love. He wants us to be right. He wants us to go to heaven. He has done everything to make that possible, all the way down to the unthinkable — offering His perfect, sinless Son in our sinful stead. We must not kick against His set of commands. Instead, let’s embrace them. Let’s strive to keep them the best we can. And when we don’t? Let’s embrace the discipline that comes and see it as a loving response from a God who wants us to be with Him eternally.
Before I finish this, let me leave you with this thought. If disciplining my daughter hurts me because I love her so much, how much must disciplining us hurt God? After all, He is love. He taught me how to love my daughter. When I require discipline, does God enjoy it or does it break His heart? I submit to you that it breaks God’s heart each and every time one of His children requires discipline. But He does it because He loves with a great, amazing love. When you are facing the consequences of your sin…when you are feeling the sting of discipline…don’t turn away from God and shake your fist as you go. Instead, turn to Him. Understand that it does hurt Him far more than it hurts you. And, above all, change. Repent of your sin and turn back to Him.