And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says, “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.” Hebrews 12:5-6
Several years ago we were engaged in an animated interview with an editor of ChristianityToday. His questions revolved around parenting and one of our latest books. Little did we know, this gentleman had a vested interest in the topic. He and his wife had become parents themselves just a few months before.
As he quizzed us about discipline he stopped our monologue to interject a thought he definitely considered important. “Do you realize that many parents today, even Christian parents, believe a lie?” Undaunted he continued. “They believe the opposite of love is discipline!”
His point was well taken. And that thought, held by many parents, is a lie.
“My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline and do not resent his rebuke, because the LORD disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.” Proverbs 3:11-12
With our loving heavenly father as the perfect example, it is clear what the loving parent should do. The confusion has arisen because abuse has been mistakenly called discipline. Abuse is never loving and it is not an appropriate consequence for misbehavior.
Several years ago Aaron, our formerly-strong-willed-child-turned-responsible-adult joined me (Kendra) on the platform as I addressed about 600 moms at a conference. At the time he was already married and in veterinary medicine school. Unbeknownst to the majority of the audience, John was sitting on the front row, cheering us on.
At the conclusion of our message we opened it up for questions. A woman from the very back of the room spoke up. “Aaron, this is a question for you. It’s obvious that your dad was the primary disciplinarian. Now as an adult, do you resent him?”
Aaron jumped off the stool he was seated on and raced to the front of the stage. He pointed directly at his dad and spoke with great passion. “I love my dad! He did what it took to make me the man I am today!!”
… the LORD disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in. (Proverbs 3:12)
Why is it tempting to believe the lie that the opposite of love is discipline?