Parental Discipline. I think about this topic as both the recipient (way back when) and the giver. But, I am struck in this passage about the distinction between earthly discipline and heavenly discipline. It seems that parents in this day and age are almost embarrassed to admit they discipline their children. For sure, the current societal mood is extremely intolerant of abuse, as it should be; but, some argue that our definition of abuse has created a blur between discipline which is needed and discipline which is actually abusive. Parents are almost afraid to discipline their children for fear of societal backlash. Consequently, I fear that we are raising a generation of children for whom behavioral boundaries are muddled at best.
But, with God, the boundaries are not blurred. His discipline is divine and it is only through this discipline that we may “share his holiness” as Paul says in verse 10. I wonder how different our society would be if parents were capable of “divine discipline”, which definitionally could never be abusive. It flows from the purest of all loves, which we as humans are not perhaps capable of here on earth but should strive for nonetheless.
Another lesson from this passage is that discipline and love breed respect. I think of kids who interrupt their parents, or mouth-off to them. To me this is a lack of respect for the parent as well as for themselves. But, so many parents allow that type of behavior to continue. If the parents do not teach the children how to be respectful, who will? According to Paul, if you do not discipline your children, those children are illegitimate, i.e. not your children. Indeed, discipline is a sign of love and acceptance by the parent of that child.
Lord, help me to be your child, disciplined in love, and help me strive to be a parent modeled by you, quick to provide my children with loving discipline and guidance as you give to all of your children.