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Do you think anyone ever really loves discipline?
There are several instances in the Bible, especially Proverbs, where the writer talks about love and discipline. First off, God, as a parent, disciplines His children because He loves them – as we should with our own kids (Prov. 3:12, 13:24).
But I think Proverbs 12:1 is especially striking.
Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge,
but whoever hates correction is stupid.
Stupid. Wow. Just flat-out stupid. The Hebrew word is ba’ar and Strong’s says it means “brutish, like a cow.”
I have a lot of trouble disciplining my almost-4-year-old daughter. She sure doesn’t love discipline. A whole lot of food-stomping and flat-out defiance goes on in our household. And honestly? I really have no idea how to discipline her effectively. I just keep trying. Try to maintain consistency.
But darn it if sometimes she isn’t brutish. Sometimes? Nearly all the time. It can be like trying to catch clouds just getting her to go to her bedroom or put on socks.
She’s definitely not to the point of loving discipline yet. I’m guessing while she’s in our home she’ll never really foster a cognitive love for it … although I’ll be glad she can always use her mean old parents as an excuse not to do something she shouldn’t.
Something my pastor said this week that stuck with me was that God wants us to come to Him like a child, but not stay childish (Heb. 5:12-14). We’re going to be in trouble if we insist on being spoonfed spirituality all our lives.
Likewise, if we can’t learn to appreciate the Lord’s discipline, we may end up … well, stupid. Too stubborn. Brutish.
It can be difficult to know how the Lord disciplines since we can’t hear Him audibly or see Him there, putting us in the time-out chair. I think that His discipline comes in natural consequences: with relationships, physically, spiritually, and emotionally. In Romans 1, God “gives over” the people to their sinful ways. Maybe He takes a step back – not in His love, but perhaps in His guidance – and lets the hatchet fall.
That scares me.
So what is loving discipline? I think it’s recognizing own sin and how its consequences are unfolding in our lives, and turning as quickly as we can back to God. Repenting, changing what needs to be changed, and having a joyful heart about it.
I’m sure we all long for our children to view discipline like that. Why would it be any different for God and His children?