My wife and I have reflected often about what we thought parenting would be like and what has been our real-life experience. I can honestly say be both really looked forward to being a mom and dad. You have foundations, lessons, and ideals that you want to teach your children, hoping the result will be well-adjusted, loving, and faithful adults. You rely on your own experience, gain perspective in your own life, as well as watching, and learning from your parents. Then, you discover it’s likely the most difficult thing you will ever do.
Along come cell phones and social media, and you are now dealing with challenges that you are not prepared for. Add on the treacherous content on laptops and mobile devices, which include pornography, the glamorization of what life “should be like,” along with the pressure that kids feel to be included and popular. Let’s not forget peer pressure which includes vaping, drinking, and sex. All that, and we are not out of the middle school years yet!
With all of that, it can be a challenge to develop a loving relationship with your children and discipline them at the same time. You are constantly counseling and advising them. You are constantly monitoring their friends, where they go, and who they socialize with. Can you remember your parents telling you as a child, “I am only doing this because I love you…” followed by a punishment? Wait, you love me, but I am (insert punishment here)?
The nature of humans is that we need to be disciplined. Our nature is to sin. Without the constant presence of the Holy Spirit in our heart, we stray from God. We will worship worldly things more than God. We will commit sin and stray from our commitment and faith to our God. The world will tempt us and we will struggle.
In the Old Testament, God spoke through His prophets. God was directly involved in administering punishment to the people of Israel because they worshiped idols, committed adultery, were spiritually corrupt, engaged in prostitution, and continually turned away from God. As their Father, God was continually trying to nurture and teach the Jews throughout the Bible about following His Word and worshipping Him, rather than earthly possessions. He was not happy with the sins that pulled the Jews away from His commandments.
The Book of Hosea was written by the prophet Hosea, who prophesized the punishment God would bring upon Israel based on their transgressions. Chapter 9, verse 7 exclaims “The days of punishment have come; The days of recompense have come. Israel knows!” In verse 9, “They are deeply corrupted, as in the days of Gibeah. He will remember their iniquity; He will punish their sins.”
God loves us even when we are committing the worst sins. Even though God spoke openly about the consequences that would come to the Jewish people for their sins, and He still loved them. As a Father, He was acting, sometimes what may seem extreme to us, to discipline His children and get them right with their faith and fellowship with Him.
Even though God disciplines us, He still loves us. Scripture in the Bible tells us that continually.
1 John 4:7-8: 7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.
1 John 4:9-11 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
Isaiah 54:10 Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you.
Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Just like we love our children unconditionally, God loves us unconditionally as well, even when we are sinful. In fact, mankind has continually defied God, our creator, and He sent His only Son to suffer and die to demonstrate His love for us. Yes, punishment is hard to accept, and even harder to administer, yet it is essential for us as humans to experience the good and bad to make the right choices in our life. Love and punishment go together. We cannot fully understand love unless we understand that punishment and suffering is to bring us to appreciate and understand the “right path.”