It’s Not About Punishment

“Go to time out!”

“Do you want a spanking?”

“Wait ’til your father gets home.”

These are typical sayings and thoughts when we think of discipline.  Maybe we’ve been on the receiving end of some of these disciplinary actions, or maybe we’ve said some of these things as we doled out some discipline ourselves.  More often than not, we associate discipline with punishment.  Even when it comes to our relationship with God.

“Uh oh.  You just lied in church – better not stand too close.  I might get taken out with you!”

True discipline, however, is an act of love.  It has nothing to do with punishment.  Punishment creates fear.  Discipline is different – much different.  At least it should be.

I love Matt Chandler’s definition of discipline:  It’s a vision of something in the future that results in action in the present.  Therefore, everything that we do with our children (and everything that God does with His children) falls under discipline and not punishment.  1 John 4:18 tells us, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”  Discipline involves a shaping of something now with a vision of how we want it to look at some point in the future.

It’s like a sculptor who sees what he wants to accomplish and begins to chisel away at the marble.  It’s a slow process.  A painful process at times.  But it’s not about the sculptor punishing the marble.  The sculptor has a vision for what he wants the marble to be.  Something beautiful.  A work of art.  Something that people will look at and take notice.

What is God shaping us for?  What end does He have in mind for us?  Hebrews 12 is a great passage that deals with God’s discipline.  If you read it, here’s some of the things that you’ll begin to understand about discipline:

  • God disciplines those He loves
  • Those that aren’t disciplined aren’t considered legitimate sons/daughters
  • The purpose of God’s discipline is for us to share in His holiness
Just like the sculptor wants others to notice his work, so God wants those who don’t know Him to look at those of us who do and exclaim, “Look what God has done in their life!  What an amazing God!”  Our holiness results in His fame.  We are the representation of God in this world.  Discipline is part of that process.
Don’t believe me?  Then, go to your room! [And read Hebrews 12 – you’re not in trouble.  It’s for your own good.]