My Son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the Son in whom he delights (Proverbs 3:11-12).
In the text, you see that the Father disciplines from a heart of love. How could He not? God is love (1 John 4:8). When you experience His discipline, you are experiencing corrective care from a loving person. Your children experience who you are, too—whether you’re a loving person or an unloving person. If you are motivated and managed by love, your kids will feel how your corrective care is from a loving person, which will make your discipline redemptive.
Because you are a loving person, your discipline will not be the first time you engaged your child in loving ways. God has a long and loving relational history with you. I cannot overstate the importance of this. If your love does not predate your time of discipline, you will confuse and frustrate your child. Here are four compelling and convincing ways you have experienced the Father’s love:
The point is that you had experienced the Father’s love many times before you experienced His discipline. He was putting money in the bank long before He took any out. That’s why His withdrawals do not hurt like it would if you were a bankrupt child. Suppose you went to your local bank and made a withdrawal. Upon arriving at your local bank, you discover that you have no money in the bank. You’re broke.
Let’s turn the illustration around. Suppose you have been steadily putting money in your local bank–every week of your life. You then go to the bank to make a withdrawal. Even though you prefer not to take money out of the bank, you know it’s possible, and when it’s necessary to pay a debt, you make the withdrawal. It stings a bit, but it does not deplete your account or your spirit. Your weekly deposits have made it possible for you to take money out when it’s necessary.
Practically letting your child know that you love him is putting money in the bank. And why wouldn’t you do this? The doctrine of sin informs you that there will be times when you will have to make “disciplinary” withdrawals; your child is not perfect. He needs your corrective and restorative care. The onus is on you to be intentional in making sure that you have convinced your child that you love him.
If you do not do this daily, you will tempt your child to give up on the relationship—once he figures out how and when to do it. It will begin with quiet disrespect. After your child becomes a teen, his disregard of you will be more blatant. He will “give you the finger” in his heart, and later, he will be bolder. The behavior you hoped for him will morph into rebellion.