I remember, not too long ago, looking a child right in the eye as he begins to slowly, deliberately tilt the full cup of water in his hand. “Stop – don’t you pour that on the floor!” I say, as I watch him do exactly that.
As the water hits the floor, my first thought is “You’re really going to get it now!”
I want to swoop in with the swift punishment that such clear disobedience surely deserves.
But I have to stop, and reconsider my motivation. It’s not just punishment that he needs, it’s discipline.
There is a big difference between punishment and discipline, and it’s important that we understand it.
What is punishment?
- The goal of punishment is justice and retribution for wrongdoing (Ps. 59:5, 2 Chr. 6:23).
- Punishment is the consequence we deserve for our sin, but Jesus bore this punishment for us on the cross (Mat. 25:46, Lam. 3:39, Jer. 21:14, Luke 23:41, Col. 2:13-14, Isa. 53:5).
- The punishment we deserve would destroy us completely (Rev. 6:17).
- Punishment is a last resort for the rebellious and unrepentant (Pro. 29:1, Jer. 36:31).
- The punishment of criminals is one of the duties God assigns to the state (1Pe. 2:14, Rom. 13:4).
- Punishment is ultimately God’s responsibility (Ps. 98:9, Jer. 11:20, Rom. 12:19).
What is discipline?
- The goal of discipline is repentance, growth, and life (Isa. 26:16, Pro. 6:23, Pro. 29:15).
- Discipline might be painful, but it leads us to righteousness (Heb. 12:11).
- Discipline is administered by a wise, loving God for the good of His children (2 Sa. 7:14, Pro. 3:11-12, Heb. 12:5-8, Rev. 3:19).
- Discipline is administered by wise, loving parents for the good of their children (Pro. 13:24, Pro. 19:18, Pro. 23:13).
- Discipline should not be done in anger (Eph. 6:4, Jas. 1:20, Gal. 6:1).
- Those who respond to discipline will be spared from punishment in the future (Pro. 15:10, Pro. 15:32, Jer. 7:28-34).
So the goal of discipline is to bring about change, to alter the course, while punishment merely metes out justice, or even revenge.
Our job as parents is to administer firm, loving discipline that leads our children to repent of their sin and walk in righteousness. This discipline is both driven and tempered by the grace God has shown us in saving us from the punishment we deserve.
reblogged from doorposts