“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 NIV
We live in an age in which child abuse is on the rise, and in which loving discipline is in decline. It is estimated that one third of all Canadians have suffered abuse as a child. In many cases, it has led to mental and emotional disorders. The epidemic is worldwide and so the solution the world offers is to prohibit spanking. 52 countries have now officially banned the spanking of children, with Canada likely to follow suit soon.
Yet Scripture reminds us that true love includes discipline, and that “folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him” (Prov.22:15). Scripture assumes that fathers who delight in their children will discipline them. Loving, godly discipline is never easy for a parent, but is proof of a parent’s love. And yet all human parental discipline is stained with sin. But not so with the discipline of God.
The Lord disciplines those he loves … and He does so in perfection. The struggles and trials we face in this life are part of his disciplining hand in our lives. And yet, for the true believer, the suffering we experience in this life is not retributive suffering, as if we must somehow pay for our sins by our suffering! No – our sin has been paid for at the cross of Calvary!! Praise God!! But the discipline we experience is restorative in nature. Our perfect heavenly Father, at great pain to Himself, allows suffering into our lives to draw us into ever deeper intimacy with Him!
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. May God enable those who are parents to discipline their children appropriately and with great love. And may God enable all of us to respond to His disciplining hand in our lives with submission and worship, knowing that His discipline is evidence of His love.