God Disciplines His Children — Like This Mom — Because He Loves Them
A lesson on behavior and consequences — and why I discipline my son.
I wanted to shield him from his problems. I wanted to protect him from his mistakes, from their consequences. “Oh, Caleb, why did you do that?” I asked. My third grader sat on the couch with his knees up, covered in a blanket, and put his hands over his face. “Why?” I repeated. He just lifted his head and looked at me.
Earlier that day, he’d been caught playing in the bathroom at school. He actually slapped another student. Caleb was not angry with the other student, he was just “playing.” Still, it was a serious situation that required serious consequences.
As my husband questioned Caleb, my little boy began to cry. All I wanted to do was hug him. To tell him it would be okay. But I didn’t know what punishment the school would dole out. We waited for the call from the school letting us know.
‘There Are Rules’
At around 7:30 p.m. I received the phone call from the assistant principal. She and the principal had just had a late conversation on Caleb’s punishment. “There are rules,” she told me. He would serve an in-school suspension.
It was horrifying and embarrassing. “What are we going to do with our son?” my husband asked as we sat in bed, getting ready to read the Bible and pray. I leaned my head on his shoulder. “I don’t know.”
Bad Choices Vs. Bad Kid
“You’re not a bad kid,” I told Caleb the next morning. “You just made some bad decisions. Some bad choices.” I wanted to hold him and keep him from being sad. And I so wanted to protect him from the consequences of his bad choices!
But I couldn’t. Not only couldn’t I do that, I wouldn’t. Taking away consequences for poor choices would steal his opportunity for learning, for life lessons that are just as important as math, reading or writing. As I thought about my son and what he’d done, I couldn’t help but think of our Heavenly Father and how He corrects us.
God Corrects Us Because He Loves Us
The Bible has a lot to say about God correcting us. Deuteronomy 8:5 says, “Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the Lord your God disciplines you.” God corrects us out of love. “[T]he Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.” (Prov. 3:12)
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C. S. Lewis explained God’s love for us in his book Mere Christianity: “Though our feelings come and go, His love for us does not. It is not wearied by our sins, or our indifference; and, therefore, it is quite relentless in its determination that we shall be cured of those sins, at whatever cost to us, at whatever cost to Him (Emphasis added).”
God doesn’t save us from consequences, but uses discipline for our learning instead. “Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise.” (Prov. 19:20) We should welcome discipline. It reminds us that we are truly God’s children. “If you are not disciplined — and everyone undergoes discipline — then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all.” (Hebrews 12:8)
“I’m sorry,” Caleb told us. His tears touched this mom. His repentance was genuine. He wrote an apology letter to the boy he slapped. “It won’t happen again,” he wrote. I’m glad I didn’t try to fight the in-school suspension or withhold discipline (like doing extra chores and helping with dinner). I will continue to discipline him. Why? I love him.
Nancy Flory, Ph.D., is a senior editor at The Stream. You can follow her @NancyFlory3, and follow The Stream @Streamdotorg.