Loving Discipline

HEB 4:14-16 ESV
Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.


As a parent, I watch my child as we teach her and as she learns her way along this path in life. I see her make some mistakes, totally unaware of what she is doing because she hasn’t yet been taught and she doesn’t yet understand. Those are great moments to teach with love and tenderness to explain what she needs to learn. Sometimes it takes several times before she catches on, but sometimes she gets it the first time and then she knows it.

Not very often do I see her slip into open rebellion where I know that she knows better but chooses to do it anyways. In fact, I’m trying to come up with an example to use and it is hard for me to pick a clear example – but some of the best examples I have are when she is distracted and isn’t listening to her mommy or isn’t following her mommy’s instructions. When I see this happening, a different tone of voice comes from this daddy and says, “Listen to your mommy.” It is still spoken with love, but she knows the firmness in this voice, and she still fears what is on the other side of that voice.

But I know the time will come in the future where she tests the firmness of that warning. And when that happens, she will face the discipline that backs up the warning. Don’t get me wrong, at times she has already faced discipline of time out, etc – but even then it hasn’t been because of open rebellion. There is a different level of urgency involved when a child grows bold enough to try open rebellion, because I know the dangers that open rebellion leads to.

You see, I don’t get mad at my child for doing wrong versus right, because I know that she is part of me and I am part of her. Many of her weaknesses are those things in me that she inherited from my natural tendencies and urges, the same nature that I inherited from my parents and that weaves back through history. These are the temptations and traps that I know that I have fallen into in my life, so I hope that she won’t follow in my steps, but I know that she probably will if I don’t teach her and warn her.

So this strong and strict discipline that waits on the other side of my teaching and my warnings – I don’t want her to face that. I would rather she listen and believe what I tell her, because it is meant to protect her from the harm that comes from those traps of life. But she has me in her, so I fear that rebellion is inevitable. I know that this strict discipline and correction will be necessary to teach her when she crosses the line and tests my resolve.

And knowing the dangers that she faces if I don’t discipline her and teach her, I cannot hold back this punishment, even if it pains me that I am the one punishing her for the moment. But it is done in love, and not in wrath, but in loving discipline. Hoping to protect her from as many traps as possible.

If she loves me and understands that I love her, she will trust that what I do, I do for her. But if she did not love me back, if she distrusted me, if she did not understand, if she hated me, and all she did was rebel against me and receive strict discipline – might she mistake my loving discipline as wrath?

Isn’t it the same with the kingdom of God?

I’m so thankful that He knows my weaknesses and shows me mercy. If I was ungrateful, I would make excuses to stay in my sinful ways, thinking God to be full of wrath wanting to keep me away from the pleasures of life. But I am thankful that He cares enough to correct me and guide me, even in those times when I need strong correction.

And because I trust Him and know that He loves me and will guide me in the paths that avoid these traps, I draw near to Him, I seek His will for my life, I repent from those ways that He gives warning about – because even if I don’t yet understand His reasoning behind why I should avoid it, I trust in His guidance, just like a loving child trusts their loving father.

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