“I am very jealous for Jerusalem and Zion and I am very angry with the nations that feel secure. I was only a little angry, but they went too far with the punishment” (Zechariah 1:14-15).
The Jewish people had been disobedient and unfaithful to their God for some time. Like children, they needed their Father in heaven to get them on the right path. In discipline, God sent them into captivity where the Gentile nations had enslaved them for seventy years. The nation of Israel suffered until they learned to repent, call upon God and seek Him with their whole heart. The seventy years were completed (discipline over), and God called his people out of bondage into a renewed relationship with him – a new chance at freedom and fruit.
However, take note that the Lord was angry with the nations He used to punish His people. Why? Because they went beyond the boundaries of punishment He required for his people. The Gentile nations were brutal and they tried to annihilate the Jews. Their intent was termination, but God’s intent was restoration.
As parents, we can get so tunnel-visioned on being right that we forget we are called to love. Biblical discipline has one goal – to restore the person (under penalty) to a reinstated love with the Father. On the other hand, tyrannical discipline has one goal – to destroy the perpetrator, nothing more and nothing less – there is no grace.
Biblical discipline acts out of biblical love – the love of the Father. One of the aspects of God’s love is He keeps no record of wrongs. To actively display the love of the Father upon our children is to love without keeping a record of offenses. The horrible phrases that often pass a parent’s lips are, “You always…” or “You will never…” or “I knew this would happen…” or even “How many times do I have to tell you…” All of these statements are typically said in frustration, not in love. If love does indeed keep no record of wrongs, then these statements will change to, “I know you can change…” or “You were made for more…” or “I am confident that you are able…” and lastly, “I will tell you over and over, I believe in you…” As you can see, the difference between these statements is one defeats while the other hopes. Love always hopes…and we should too.
Is your child making unwise decisions in their life? Are they choosing to disobey you and God? Are they suffering the consequences to their actions? Their consequences are signs of God’s discipline. We are to join God in his discipline, but never should we take it further than what God intended. For even in God’s wrath He has mercy. Underlying our partnership with God, we are to offer hope (endlessly), forgiveness (seven times seventy, meaning ongoing), perseverance (never giving up) and faith (trusting in God’s provision always). We are to be a home base for our children to return to; a place where they find a renewed relationship of love. Just as the father of the prodigal son was waiting, hoping and seeking the return of his son in his absence, we also need to have the same heart. Wait – hope – seek for the good that God will do in the correction of our children. Love never gives up. Love never fails.
Personally, we gratefully sing and fill our sanctuaries with the lyrics, “Love never fails, never gives up, never runs out on me…” yet, these lyrics should be the blood that pumps our own heart for our children. Remember the love of the Father when your child does one more thing that sends you reeling. In this time, remember the purpose behind discipline – to restore your child in right relationship with you and God. Check your motive of discipline; is it loving or condemning? Will it restore or tear down? Give up your right to be right and move forth in God’s love and His plan. Seek to understand your child and God’s way, so that restoration can be complete. Do not go beyond God’s intent of discipline; if you do, you will indeed destroy your child. And then like the Gentile nations, you will suffer the consequence of God’s anger. Ouch, I know that hurt. I’m sorry, but the good news is this: when we find we have disciplined our children beyond God’s boundary, thankfully, in His immense love, He can restore us, too! Oh, what an amazing God we serve! Amen? (This of course is not an excuse to continue to fail…we must choose to change.)
“LORD, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, O LORD. Renew them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy” (Habakkuk 3:2).
Recommended scripture passages to read:
Habakkuk 3:2; Zechariah 1:12-17; Luke 15:11-32; 1 Corinthians 13:1-8