We must all suffer from one of two pains: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. The difference is discipline weighs ounces while regret weighs tons. —Jim Rohn
When my children were young, I tried spanking as a form of discipline. My oldest was a thick kid, and when I swatted him on the bum, he’d often walk away announcing, “I didn’t even feel that one, Dad. It didn’t even hurt.”
My daughter was different. Her first spanking devastated her. And a few days later, when she disobeyed again, she refused to come to me when I called her. Annika’s eyes filled with tears, and she shook in fear. So instead of spanking her, I pulled her into my lap to cuddle and thought, This isn’t working.
Soon after, I shared this story with a friend who told me, “Pete, never spank that child again. But do consider the value of allowing a little pain in her life for the purpose of education and growth.”
Scripture calls this parenting concept “discipline.”
“Because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.” (Hebrews 12:6)
Here is the problem: we are human and imperfect. We don’t always get discipline right. If I were starting over again with newborns, I would never spank my kids, I just think there are better ways to do this!
So when we read Hebrews 12:6, we tend to read into the verse, thinking the methods by which our parents disciplined us, or the way we disciplined our kids, will be the same methods by which God disciplines. But not everyone’s parents parented well; some parents used discipline as an excuse to beat their children. As a result, this verse invokes fear in some, as they assign old feelings and memories to their heavenly Father. Is God going to beat me down too?
What’s more, we know it’s unfair to punish someone who’s done nothing wrong, and so God’s punishment must come after our disobedience, right? If so, then this means we—believers in Christ—are being struck down for our sin. That’s a terrifying thought. It’s also incorrect.
The above is a distorted understanding of Hebrews 12:6, and it leads into a distorted understanding of God. This week, we’re going to clear up both misunderstandings.
Lord, it’s possible that I’ve seen You as a God of reward and punishment for a long time. Open my eyes to the full implications of what it means to be rescued and forgiven. Show me the beauty of discipline. Amen.