I was 11, my brother 9, and we had been fighting like cats and dogs. I mean, what brother and sister don’t have fights, but to hear my mom tell it, it was all out war in the home. It was right around Christmas, just a few weeks until THE day, and my mother had had enough of our arguing.
“If I have to tell you one more time to knock it off, there will be no Christmas from your Pop and me.” (Please note here that we were not taught about Santa, so the presents from them were a big deal.) But does that sound real, folks?! Of course it doesn’t. Every parent says something like that once or 50 times in their life… “if you don’t knock it off, you’re gonna get a spanking/grounded/no tv/no dinner/no dessert, etc.” So you can imagine how keen I was on listening to her warning.
Until we woke up Christmas morning and the usually blocked off hallway leading to the living room was without it’s usual blocking. We walked into the open space….AND THERE WAS NOTHING UNDER THE TREE. For real. We bawled our eyes out, had breakfast and when on about our day. What kind of parent does that????
And despite the devastation I felt that morning, as an adult now, I recognize the need for that kind of correction.
Sometimes correction seems harsh or unjust. It doesn’t feel fair because we don’t see what we’ve done as “that bad.” In human eyes, we treat our sin as if it’s something that we can just brush off. There isn’t a need to make a big deal out of it. I mean, God forgives so what’s the harm?
Correction is needed for maturing and growth in your faith in God. It’s a necessary step in the walk that we have as Christians. Paul speaks of this in Hebrews 12:4-8.
4 “You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin;
5 And you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons, “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor faint when you are reproved by Him;
6 For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and He scourges every son whom He receives.”
7 It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline?
8 But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.”
Because God loves us, it’s imperative there is discipline when we are headed down the wrong path. When there is sin, we must be held accountable. It doesn’t mean that God will not forgive us when we repent. Rather, correction is meant to guide us back to the road that leads to the Way, the Truth, and the Life. If we didn’t receive this, the Bible tells us we wouldn’t be children of the King.
What does discipline from God look like? I’m no theologian, but I suspect that it’s different for each person and for each thing God is trying to correct us on. Just like a loving parent does, three swats on the behind might be applicable to one offense, while an early bedtime with no dessert might work better for something different. Here’s what I can stand firm on—God knows what’s appropriate and best. And He loves us enough to do it. We can stand comforted that His discipline comes from a right and just place. He will always lead us back to Him.
I pray this week as we go about our business, that we recognize our attitudes and actions as Godly, adhering to the Word of God. If there is correction to be received, may you see that it’s loving.
P.S. We did finally get our presents…our parents woke up as at 1145pm to let us open the hidden presents. We never tested the waters again.