Thursday, June 14, 2012

God as Father and Disciplinarian

I remember getting in trouble a few times when I was younger (okay, quite a few times).  A friend of my parents had made this paddle - a board, sanded down with a handle carved at one end - as a gift for my parents.  It was kept in a kitchen drawer.  It didn't matter what I was doing wrong, if I heard "go to the kitchen," I knew I was toast.  

(Now, before I go on...I'm adding a disclaimer here - I was NOT abused as a child.  My parents paddled me on occasion for disciplinary reasons.  I do not fear them now and do not hold it against them.  I think I turned out just fine.)  

Anyhow, back to my story.  Depending upon who sent me to the kitchen, my routine was a bit different.  My mom was the enforcer, I knew I couldn't get out of what I had done.  On the other hand, my dad was a little weaker.  He would send me to the kitchen and I would go...but the whole way, the tears were falling and I was doing everything I could to get out of it (even in my early teen years) - "Please don't Daddy, I'm really sorry, I promise I won't ever do it again.  I'm really, really, really, sorry.  *sob, sob* Please no Daddy."  Usually, the charade would work and I would get off with a "Go to your room" instead of a paddling.

I firmly believe that this isn't something either of my parents enjoyed or even remotely wanted to do, which is why I could usually talk Dad out of it.  He didn't want to hurt me, physically or emotionally.  But it was something they had to do.  They were teaching me a lesson - that I shouldn't misbehave or disobey.  It was for my own good.  

Deuteronomy 8:5 - Thus you are to know in your heart that the Lord your God was disciplining you just as a man disciplines his son."

To clarify again, discipline is not something anyone wants to do.  God disciplines us, much like a good father, "unwillingly, being constrained by necessity,"  He does so "moderately...remembering mercy,"  and always "for [our] reformation not [our] destruction" (Wesley).  The Hebrew for "discipline" is yacar (ya sare) meaning "to dissuade from anything" (Lexicon H3256).  God disciplines us in order to dissuade us from sin, from doing the wrong thing.

We are to know this in our hearts.  But what does that mean?  "Know" in the Hebrew is yada', "to know...often by the mind and hence to understand" (Lexicon H3045).  So we are to understand this discipline in our hearts, "that is, [we] must own it from [our] own experience that God has corrected [us] with a fatherly love, for which [we] must return to Him a...reverence and compliance" (Henry).  Knowing, understanding, in our hearts that God disciplines us with a fatherly love will lead to respecting Him, revering Him, obeying Him, and loving Him with all of our hearts!

Today I challenge you to examine your view of God - do you view Him as more of a cop who is out to catch you or as a Father who only wants what is best for you?  If your view needs adjusting - spend some time in His word today in order to discover the true intentions of our Father God.  If you don't know where to start, my blog archives are listed on the right hand side of this page - each one deals with a different verse and each one shows a little more of God's true character!  I pray we learn more about Him each and every day!

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