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“Because I said so!”

January 6, 2012

If you’re a parent then you have probably had to use the above phrase about a million times already. Disciplining your children can be really tough especially when they don’t understand the bigger picture.

As a young parent, with a 16 month old son, I have only just begun my journey of learning effective discipline. My son is already a tantrum expert and this can be extremely frustrating, especially when I know my actions are for his benefit.

I think as Christians it’s helpful to remember that there is often this same dynamic between us and God.

The bible talks often of God being a father to us. As a result of God’s sovereign grace we have been adopted into His family – and this transition from the old place to the new place makes a HUGE difference to us – especially in the context of discipline.

All too often we think of God as this angry tyrant who wants us to suffer because we sin. Let’s not forget what Hebrews 12 (New Testament) tells us:

“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.”

If you can call yourself a child of God then His objective towards you is no longer punishment as an end in itself but rather one of loving discipline; a discipline that has a desired destination. When I sit my son on the naughty step I do so not because I want him to know I’m angry but because I have an objective – I want to see my son walking in righteousness, I want to see him avoid the many pitfalls that come from following sin, pitfalls that perhaps I know all too well.

We need to remember that in every context of God telling us not to do this or not to do that, behind it is a fierce heart of compassion that beats for our well-being. Check out this verse from Jeremiah chapter 2 (Old Testament):

“12 Be appalled, O heavens, at this; be shocked, be utterly desolate, declares the LORD, 13 for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.”

This has got to be one of my favourite passages from the bible – in this chapter you get to hear the raw and passionate heart of God. Here we can see something truly phenomenal. In the context of our wrongdoing we see God drawing two observations.

Firstly forsaking Him is such a hugely heinous crime that it causes the Heavens to be shocked! In the light of who He is and what He has done the idea of forsaking Him is ridiculous. This is the aspect of sin that we are familiar with, this is the message that churches all too often shout about! Forsaking God is naughty!! We know this side of sin already.

The second observation is spoken of a little less these days. In our forsaking of Him we damage ourselves. We make for ourselves broken cisterns that can’t hold any water – we are the ones who end up missing out. However notice that it goes a little deeper. The title that God gives Himself here also speaks of His desire to benefit us. He doesn’t say “You have forsaken me ‘the mega king of the universe”. But rather He refers to Himself as ‘the fountain of living waters’ communicating to us that He is the only one who can satisfy. “Why hold onto a broken water cistern when you can come to me – a fountain of living waters?”

I think that understanding this makes a huge difference. We are able to, as James said, ‘consider it pure joy’ when we meet trials and difficulties – we can do this because we know that our Father can see the bigger picture.

So next time you feel like you’re experiencing a difficult season of discipline remember it’s a good thing, For the Lord disciplines the one He loves and chastises every son whom He receives.

The question is are you someone who knows God as your father?

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From → Knowing God

2 Comments
  1. reverb1983 permalink

    Experiencing a difficult season of discipline?

    Hmm, could you unpack that a little for us Jez? Maybe give a few examples of how God can discipline us? Does He put us on the spiritual naughty step or does he take away our privileges or gifts if we’ve been bad, or not done as we were told?

  2. Hello my friend, sorry for very late response to this comment. Whilst I remain utterly certain of the fact that God disciplines those whom He loves (mainly because the bible and my life backs it up) it is quite hard to identify and quantify how that discipline might look.

    I would suggest that possibly he does both – puts us on spiritual ‘time-out step’ (Bex doesn’t like me calling it the naughty step lol) and also takes away privileges. For example when we look at the character of Samson we can see that God had gifted him with immense strength and he squandered that gift by getting too caught up in (what we can presume was) a sexual relationship with Delilah. We could arge here that God didn’t take that gift away it was Delilah who took it away by cutting his hair, but when Samson asks for it back towards the end of his life – God gave it back which suggests that even though Delilah cut his hair – God removed the gift.

    I do think that very often we only consider discipline as something that happens after we’ve been disobedient. But I would suggest it helpful to consider discipline as general life training. God may patiently and graciously discipline me to study the word more – that’s not as a result of disobedience necessarily. In the same way I will discipline CJ to eat at the table with good manners – that doesn’t mean I have to wait for him to be rude before I can show him. Does that make sense?

    What are your thoughts my friend – you are in fact someone I look up to hugely in terms of understanding discipline – You and Laura do a phenomenal job with Samuel and Isaac.

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