Yesterday was Father’s Day and I had a great day with my family and kids. Parenting increases my appreciation for God’s role as my Heavenly Father. Since I have young children, one area that I’m constantly wrestling with is the matter of discipline. How do I encourage godliness, good character, and wisdom in the life of my children? Hebrews 12:6-11 give us insight into how our perfect Heavenly Father approaches discipline:
For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives. It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 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.
God’s discipline evidences that he loves us as a father and treats us as sons. God disciplines us because he wants his best for our life, the peaceful fruit of righteousness. God’s discipline isn’t motivated by our bad behavior. God’s discipline is motivated by his love for us as his children and his desire for us to enjoy his best in life.
This concept impacts on how I discipline my children, especially my oldest daughter-who is old enough that we can have conversations about these matters (somehow it’s not registering with my two-year old son, ha!).
When times of significant discipline come around with my daughter I try to talk with her about why I am disciplining her. So far every time when I ask her why she thinks I’m disciplining her, she answers with the circumstances that necessitated intervention: “I disobeyed you.” “I hit my brother.” “I had a bad attitude.” “I was sassy with my mom.” I try to talk with her and reminder her that I’m disciplining her because I love her and I want God’s best for her. I want her to yield the fruit of righteousness (I don’t use that phrase). Yes, the circumstances that necessitated my engagement with her in this painful, in the immediate, are part of the equation. But they aren’t the reason I’m disciplining her. The reason is that I’m trying to be like my Heavenly Father and encourage his best in her life.
Don’t Forget the Gospel
Of course I must also remind myself and my daughter that God not only disciplines us as children but he also provides the mechanism for forgiveness. Jesus death and resurrection in our place means God is also faithful and just to forgive us our sins when we confess. I forgive my daughter because God forgave me.
I’m not a perfect parent but I do have a perfect role model for parenting my Heavenly Father.