Did you ever get disciplined by your parents growing up and hear these words, “I am doing this because I love you”? As kids when we heard these words, we would think, “Ok, if that’s love, could you love me a little differently?” :)
It is hard for us who live in a modern, affluent society to associate anything uncomfortable with love. Can discipline really be a component of love? How so?
One of the most famous proverbs in scripture is Proverbs 13:24: “Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.”
If I spare the rod, how do I hate my children? We all know from experience that we as humans have a bent towards selfishness and disobedience. We also know that if we live pridefully and selfishly that we hurt ourselves and others. So, if a child is not disciplined, they will hurt themselves and others. That is why I would have to hate my kids not to discipline them!
The same is true of our Heavenly Father as He loves us. Consider this passage of scripture from Hebrews 12:4-12,
In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 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.”
Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
Since God loves us, He is always working for our good. Our transformation into Christlikeness is what is best for us, and it takes discipline to accomplish that. But the Bible says that “it is His kindness that leads us to repentance”! This is true! That is why God’s discipline is an expression of His kindness to us. Discipline, done in love, is part of His wise, strong love for us.