Monday, March 21, 2011

Discipline as Grace

he other day I was disciplining my oldest child (7 years old) and she was none too happy about it at the time. She proceeded to ask me to show grace to her, meaning, "let her off the hook" or "make the punishment shorter."  But as I thought about it while discussing this issue with her, I realized that I am showing her grace by disciplining her. Attempts to explain that to her sort of failed due to her limited understanding of grace. Her middle name is even Grace. But despite that, I learned something I believe I already knew, but was made manafest in my putting it into practice. Consider the following passage of scripture:

[3] Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. [4] In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. [5] And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?       
“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
nor be weary when reproved by him.
  [6] For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and chastises every son whom he receives.”
  [7] It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? [8] If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. [9] Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? [10] For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. [11] For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. 
[12] Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, [13] and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. [14] Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. [15] See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; [16] that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. [17] For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears. 
(Hebrews 12:3-17 ESV)
So, you see, Godly discipline is God's grace to us as He molds us into Christ's image. If we do not endure discipline as God's children, then we are not God's children. Simply put. There is a goal to discipline. It is holiness, cleansining, purification. I desire to discipline my children in the same way that God desires to discipline us. It is for their good so that down the road, they can look back and see that they should be thankful for that discipline. I thank God for my parents who disciplined me so that I would learn from my sin. We live in a culture that sees it as wrong to discipline children. Children should raise themselves, according to the United Nations. If that were true of Christians, God's children, the Church would have even more problems than it already has. Examine yourselves to see if there is sin to be rooted out. Maybe God is disciplining you now. Take heart, God will not give you more than you can bear. As the writer of Hebrews says, Lift up your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees. This is temporary and it is for your benefit and God's. If anything, trials and tribulations in the Christian life are a confirmation that you are God's son or daughter. Discipline is Grace.