Give a little love to a child, and you get a great deal back. (John Ruskin)
Discipline your children while you still have the chance; indulging them destroys them. (Proverbs 19:18)
Proverbs reminds us that disciplining your children is really loving them: "A refusal to correct is a refusal to love; love your children by disciplining them." (Proverbs 13:24) How many parents today struggle with how to discipline their children. Back in my day, the sassy mouth, bad attitude, or occasional wrongdoing was dealt with by either taking away a privilege, getting a couple whacks on the backside, or being grounded. I knew the occasional need to restrict me, and even the occasional swat on the backside didn't mean my parents didn't love me. In fact, it was just the opposite - they cared enough about how I'd turn out that they took the steps to require the right respect for my elders, follow the rules set forth by those in a position of authority, and to always do my best. God is much like my parents were - he cares about me too much to let me continue in any wrongdoing or the pursuit of things that aren't the best for my life.
Did I always appreciate the discipline when it came? No way! In fact, I sometimes wanted to run away from home! I think the idea of 'running away' when discipline comes our way is not a unique thing to me. I imagine a good many of us see discipline coming our way and want to turn and run before it arrives! One thing I always knew about my parents - they loved me. One thing I definitely know about God is that he always loves me - even when I mess up. The same goes for you. Mess up - and we all will - and discipline may just be the outcome. Why? God loves us too much to let us continue in that mess any longer. Discipline isn't the absence of love - it is the evidence of it.
John Ruskin also reminds us, "The highest reward for a person's toil is not what they get for it, but by what they become by it." It can seem like we are working hard to embrace the discipline God sends our way, but keep in mind there is something happening within us when we allow God to train us through those bad spots. Yes, I said 'train us' - because that is what discipline really is - training and teaching designed to be learned and repeated. Rather than repeating the mess up, we begin to learn how to repeat the right steps. We call that obedience - a learned 'good' or 'right' behavior that corrects a previously learned wrong or bad behavior. Embrace God's love when it comes - it isn't designed to hurt you - it is designed to 'grow' you! Just sayin!
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