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Training Not Punishment

Training Not Punishment

15 July 2010

Today’s Reading: Isaiah 22-24; Hebrews 12

Scripture:

5 So don’t feel sorry for yourselves. Or have you forgotten how good parents treat children, and that God regards you as his children? My dear child, don’t shrug off God’s discipline, but don’t be crushed by it either. 6 It’s the child he loves that he disciplines; the child he embraces, he also corrects. 7 God is educating you; that’s why you must never drop out. He’s treating you as dear children. This trouble you’re in isn’t punishment; it’s training, 8 the normal experience of children. Only irresponsible parents leave children to fend for themselves. Would you prefer an irresponsible God? (Hebrews 12:5-8 MSG)

Responsible, caring parents develop responsible, caring children. The way to develop responsibility in children is through discipline and training. One of the problems with this, both in the attitude children have toward parents and the attitude Christians have toward Father God, is that we mistake training – discipline – for punishment.

Punishment is past-oriented. Punishment inflicts pain or exacts payment for wrongs done. Its only benefit is that, like a child who burns her hand on a hot stove learns not to touch the stove, we learn that doing wrong hurts. And like the child who is burned by the stove, we may carry the scars of the punishment.

Training is future-oriented. Training moves us from wriggling helplessly in the crib to crawling on the floor to walking across the room to sure-footedly running the race of life. Training places resistance against our weak muscles to develop strong muscles. Our teachers assign problems that require us to use our limited knowledge to gain new knowledge, and that require us to apply what we already know to challenges we haven’t yet faced. Training takes us from comfortable passivity to tiring and painful challenge, and we grow strong, confident, and capable in the process.

Life’s often-painful challenges are not the petty punishments of an angry God, but the careful training of a loving, caring Father.

Prayer:

Father, Please help me embrace your discipline and training. Don’t stop just because I whine and complain! I’m learning not to think of training as punishment! I long to grow into the mature relationship you want to have with me. I know I’ve made progress, but there’s still a long way to go. I want to keep growing. Amen.

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