Disciplined in love
Pastor Steve Olson, Gethsemane Lutheran Church, Dassel
“My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.” Proverbs 3:11-12
Sometimes when bad things happen, we might wonder if God is punishing us. That may be the case, but as Jesus pointed out on numerous occasions, this cannot be an automatic assumption. (See Luke 13:24 and John 9:2-3)
There are also numerous places in scripture that point out how the sins of others can bring suffering to us, which is part of living in a broken world.
Yet, there are times when God is trying to get our attention. There are times when the Lord disciplines those he loves. The point of this discipline is not to break the spirit, but to correct the heart.
That is the loving part of discipline. In correcting the heart, we as parents, and God, as our Father in heaven, want to redirect the lives of those we love onto a path that leads to true joy and peace.
This discipline may not always be appreciated in the moment, but it is done in love; and in time, we do appreciate it for what it is.
We can tell the difference between loving discipline and vindictive punishment, and so can our kids. So when we discipline, we need to be careful about our motives and actions, for vindictive punishment can have the opposite effect of loving discipline. Paul warned about this in his letter to the Colossians, “Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.” (Col. 3:21)
Where loving discipline corrects the heart, vindictive punishment breaks the spirit and brings even greater rebellion. This is a simple truth, which God understands well. So when God disciplines us, it is never done in a vindictive spirit; and this gives us a clue to discerning the discipline of God.
The discipline of God brings us peace with God, as our lives are transformed by the power of His love. Anything else that leads us away from God is of the Devil.
So when you wonder if God is trying to get your attention, stop for a moment. Consider whether there is something that needs to be corrected. If so, accept God’s loving correction.
Let God determine the shape of your life and as Paul wrote, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is His good, pleasing and perfect will.”