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The Lord corrects the people he loves and disciplines those he calls his own.” Hebrews 12:6 (CEV)

Say the word ‘discipline’ and the picture most of us have conjured up in our minds is a child sitting in the corner or being spanked or some other painful situation. ‘Discipline’ and ‘punishment’ are often considered to be the same thing even though they are really quite different.

Punishment is backward looking. If I get a speeding ticket, it’s not offered to me because I may speed tomorrow, it’s given to me because I wasn’t paying close enough attention to my speed in the past several miles. Punishment is intended to cause pain either physically, financially or emotionally.

Discipline, on the other hand, is forward looking. A championship runner is considered disciplined because he/she forces themselves to run every day and push themselves to better themselves every time they step out of the house.

Discipline and punishment have on thing in common. Both are painful. Both are intended to make you ‘better’ but the attitude behind each is tremendously different. Punishment comes without relationship. Discipline almost always comes as a result of relationship. I discipline my children by teaching them standards, principles and skills that will prepare them for life in the future. Why? Because I love them and I want more than anything for them to succeed.

Will the discipline be hard? Sometimes. Will there be pain? Yes, especially if they make choices that are contrary to the principles we’ve established. But that pain will come as a result of the consequences of their behavior, not as a result of my anger.

Discipline, while painful, is necessary if we are going to succeed on the path our journey takes us on. Frank A. Clark states, “If you can find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere.”

God, as our loving Heavenly Father, wants nothing more than for us to feel fulfilled in life. Many people see his rules as restrictive, out of touch or even painful. Some focus on the ‘punishment of God’ and refer to it as God’s punishment when, in reality it’s simply the consequences of behavior God warns us against.

If you passionately love someone you will do everything in your power to prepare them for life ahead. You’ll tell them the things to avoid. You’ll warn them of the consequences of certain behaviors. You’ll tell them of the dangers associated with certain places. Why? Because you love them. As one writer states, “discipline is administered by a loving forward looking parent with an eye on helping the child become all that they can become.” Your Heavenly Father feels this way about you.

Don’t mistake the consequences of your choices as God’s punishment. Listen to his direction and realize they are only for your good. Remember that even while enduring the consequences he offers hope, forgiveness and strength to carry on.

PRAYER: Father, thank you for loving me enough to discipline me even though at times it’s painful. Give me wisdom and courage to follow your way. Amen

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