THE DEFINITION OF DISCIPLINE
It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons, for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? (Hebrews 12:7).
There is a major difference between discipline and punishment in child raising. Punishment is past-oriented. Punishment is paying your child back for hurting you in some way. Punishment says, "You ruined my day, so I’m going to ruin yours." Its motive is revenge. We are clearly instructed not to take revenge (Romans 12:19). Only the Lord knows how much vengeance is dished out in the name of discipline.
A humbled mother told me about an incident of vengeance she had with her daughter. "Neil, Mandy destructively poked several small holes in my toothpaste tube, so I did the same to her tube of toothpaste. ‘See how you like it,’ I said to her. Then Mandy looked at me with a crushed expression on her face. ‘You’re not supposed to return evil for evil,’ she said. I suddenly realized that my act of revenge benefited neither of us."
Discipline is future-oriented. In Hebrews we read: "All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness" (12:11). We don’t punish our children for doing something; we discipline them so they won’t do it again. Discipline superintends future choices. Discipline is proof of our love, not license to even the score.
Our discipline of our children is modelled after God’s discipline of us. We know we are God’s dearly loved children, not unloved illegitimate children, by His discipline. God disciplines us so that we may share in His holiness. Scripture acknowledges that discipline is not joyful at the time it is administered, but what joy ever comes from an undisciplined life? The same is true in your child’s life.
Father God, I desire to parent my children in the same way You parent me: with wisdom and love.