The Discipline of Love


image We’ve all felt it. Hot anger rising up our necks, the destructive flow of careless words pouring out burning those around us. The wise are slow to it and the average among us gives to anger more easily than she ought. The fool of course gives full vent and perhaps we’ve all played the fool on this one and hopefully we repented quickly.

 

A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back. Proverbs 29:11

 

The thing about anger is that it’s powerful and it most often destroys whatever is before it. My childhood home was an angry one and I felt the full weight of anger’s force. It is a difficult blow to bear.

 

The power of life and death are in the tongue and those who love it, eat its fruit. Proverbs 18:21

 

I find myself these days living in a warm loving home, a place where young hearts can thrive in security. It brings me joy. But within the happy chaos there arises a temptation to quick anger, impatience, annoyance when I have to correct my children for the hundredth time on the same thing. If you go back and check that list of temptations you might note that they are not the fruit of the Spirit but the antithesis of it. If you live in the happy circus called motherhood I’m sure you’ve done it both ways just like me. I’ve disciplined in anger and I’ve disciplined, I pray as a norm, in love. I want to put something on the table for your consideration today.

 

Both forms of discipline may result in obedience, but the child who confirms as a result of the brunt force of your anger will only learn how to keep the letter of the Law. There is a real sense in which we should be afraid to disobey God’s Law and a child must learn to fear the Lord. The question is what are we teaching our children about God and His ways in how we discipline them. We must never forget that we are our children’s first introduction to who God is and they will infer much from how we treat them. Children aren’t adults, they must be taught with a gentle hand with love.

 

I would suggest that anger teaches the letter of the Law but love and kindness teaches the heart of it. When a child obeys because they understand the heart of their parents and so learn a tiny something about the heart of our God they have the opportunity to obey in an understanding way. To be sure there are consequences to every sin and a discipline must be given to fit it. I am not advocating letting children get away with their sin in any fashion. I am suggesting that the discipline we give in anger is different than the discipline we give in love. Loving discipline is harder to give it takes more discipline and control on our part,more thought and intention, more humility. But it’s worth it.

 

I desire the fruit of the Spirit in my life so that my children may be nourished by the grace of God in my life rather than “disciplined” by the hand of my easy anger. I imagine you long for the same thing.

 

Let’s pray that the Lord would give us the wisdom to discipline in a way that rightly reflects who He is.

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