When I was a teenager, I went down the wrong road.
I had a friend who talked me into drinking. It started easily enough. The first taste of beer was so good that I just had to have another. And another.
It gave me a tingling feeling that set me free from my inhibitions. I was the guy I thought I wanted to be.
The problem was I couldn’t control the stuff.
Then I started coming home after drinking all night. One night my dad was waiting for me.
He was not happy, to put it mildly.
I was guilty of bad behavior. My sentence was not to see my friend again.
At first, I didn’t like the discipline. It took a while for the good intention of it to set in. Only later did I see that my dad did what he did was because he loved me.
Proverbs 3:11,12 gives us the picture of God’s discipline. He too, does it because He loves us. He wouldn’t have to if we really didn’t need it. But since we are by nature rebellious, discipline is part of how God shapes us into what He wants us to be.
If you’re a parent, you understand this. You have a vision for what you want your kids to become. This vision shapes the way you discipline them. For example, if you want your child to have good manners, you will chide him when he does something that is irritating or inconsiderate of others.
Your expression of love will determine how this discipline comes across.
The time it takes for discipline to have its intended effect will be directly influenced by how much your child feels your love. God tells us again and again in Scripture that we are deeply loved, and are His treasured possession. He illustrated that love by sacrificing Jesus to die for everything we should have been disciplined for. So since the death sentence has already been carried out, God’s discipline, while painful, doesn’t hurt nearly as much as it would if we didn’t know how much we are loved.
If you want your kids to live up to the vision you have for them, they have to know beyond any doubt that you love them. Otherwise, punishment will seem like the cruelty of a tyrant to them.