The Discipline of LoveFebruary 19, 2019 - 12:00 am
“Blessed is the one whom God corrects;
so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.” — Job 5:17
In Hebrew, the word for love is ahava, which comes from the root word, hav, “to give.” In Judaism, to love is to give. Giving to others forms the connection that enables us to love one another.
Think back to your earliest conception of God. How did you picture Him? If you are like most people, you probably pictured an old man with a long white beard sitting on a throne up in heaven looking down on the Earth below. And what was God doing all day on that throne? Issuing judgement! A few lightning bolts here and there for the bad guys and some nice ice cream sundaes for the good kids. We all mature at some point and hopefully our understanding of God does too.
Here’s what we got right as kids. God is judging us. But not in the sense we imagined as children. God’s judgement is not a sign of His wrath and power. God isn’t a scary old man in the sky. Judgement is actually a sign of great love. God is our caring parent.
Imagine that a teenager asks his parents for permission to use the car. His parents tell him that it’s okay provided that he is home by midnight. The teenager goes out and loses track of time. He arrives home late, very late. As he enters his house he is afraid of his parents, certain that he will be punished. Sure enough, his parents don’t accept his excuses and they ground him for a month. He is furious at his parents. He shouts, “It’s not fair!” and then stomps off to bed and slams his door.
Imagine for a moment that instead of disciplining their child, the parents let him get away with it. Imagine they allow him to break the rules over and over again with no consequences whatsoever. At first the child would feel great — he can do whatever he wants! But after a while he would realize that if his parents don’t care about what he does and who he becomes, how much could they possibly care about him?
Accountability is the highest form of love because it means that I care about what you do and who you are becoming. God’s judgement is the deepest expression of His love for mankind. He cares about you and me and the world. The book of Job expresses this so beautifully when it says, “Blessed is the one whom God corrects; so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.”
Unpleasant consequences that come from our poor decisions can be like bad-tasting medicine. It’s not enjoyable, but it really helps. Realizing that the consequences are being given to us out of love can help make the medicine easier to swallow.