Okay, okay...I hate to break the news to you, but I am God's favorite child! Now, I know this may come as a surprise to you, but God actually favors me as his favorite. How do I know this? Simple - he corrects me a lot! That one fact, according to scripture, indicates I am his "favorite"! Okay, I don't have an over-inflated ego or anything, but it warms my heart to know God actually "favors" me - by showing his love to me through his correction. I never got all that excited about the correction of my parents when I was a little kid - in fact, I kind of thought they might just have needed a little intervention to know how warped they were in their parenting! As they disciplined me, I thought they probably were the worst parents in the whole wide world and there was no one stricter, meaner, or less "loving" than they were. How warped was that impression! In the moment of discipline, nothing is pleasant, but when we step back enough from it, we see how loving those actions were. They were intended to correct our course because we were not on the best one.
My child, don’t turn away or become bitter when the Lord corrects you. The Lord corrects everyone he loves, just as parents correct their favorite child. (Proverbs 3:11-12 CEV)
Lest you think I had parents from down under (and I don't mean Australia), they were awesome parents. During my formative years, though, they didn't exactly peg out on the scale of terrible to awesome in the awesome category, if you know what I mean! My mind just couldn't see the wisdom in their discipline - at least not while I was going through it! I don't think I was alone in that feeling because I have heard a lot of other people indicate how "unfair" or "unjust" they thought their parents were in some of their discipline until they got to be adults and raised kids of their own. Then, as though some switch flipped on, we found ourselves doing and saying things our own parents had done and said all those years before. Why? We recognized the wisdom in their actions!
As a child, I became angry and sometimes a little bitter toward my parents - reflected in my rebellion against their authority in my life. The issue wasn't their discipline, because it was always done with a heart of love, but rather my willingness to see it as a sign of their tremendous love for me. We often face God's discipline in our lives in much the same way - seeing it as "unjust" or "unfair" instead of realizing it is the greatest sign of his love toward us. We want the warm hugs and cool gifts he gives, but when it comes to experiencing a little bit of his discipline, we turn against his hand.
God loves us too much to allow us to continue in our "undisciplined" state. Whatever we are doing and the thinking behind those actions are the object of his attention because we are the object of his affection! We need to recognize God doesn't relish having to show us when we are thinking or doing things which will bring harm into our lives - he'd rather we didn't get ourselves into these places in the first place. When we are about to enter them or just blindly run into those places of compromise and decisions based on feelings alone, he often opposes us with some form of discipline - not to harm us, but to keep us from going any further because he knows that path will be what harms us.
God isn't just "there" in our lives, he is there when we need him most and when we don't even think about him. That means there will be times when we don't even know our actions are about to be taking us down the wrong path, but he is ever-watchful of us to insure we are soon aware of the danger in the choice we are about to make. I think my parents did a lot to "sculpt" my conscience, often hearing their voice telling me I was about to do something I'd find some negative consequences coming into my life if I took those first steps. I don't consider that a bad thing today, because I know it was that "voice" which kept me from going where I should not go on more than one occasion. Did I resist it? Yes. Did I know better on occasion? Yes. Did they love me despite my actions? Always!
God is the same - he disciplines us as though we were each his favorite child. No one is an exception. No one is outside of his love. No one matters more to him that you! Just sayin!