04/23/F – Loving Discipline

Job 25:1-27:23; 2 Corinthians 1:23-2:11; Psalms 42:1-8; Proverbs 13:24-25

NT: “For I wrote to you with many tears out of an extremely troubled and anguished heart — not to cause you pain, but that you should know the abundant love I have for you. If anyone has caused pain, he has caused pain not so much to me but to some degree — not to exaggerate — to all of you. This punishment by the majority is sufficient for that person. As a result, you should instead forgive and comfort him. Otherwise, he may be overwhelmed by excessive grief. Therefore I urge you to reaffirm your love to him. I wrote for this purpose: to test your character to see if you are obedient in everything. Anyone you forgive, I do too. For what I have forgiven — if I have forgiven anything — it is for your benefit in the presence of Christ, so that we may not be taken advantage of by Satan. For we are not ignorant of his schemes.” (‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭2:4-11‬ ‭CSB)

Apparently, based on Paul’s writings in this letter, someone in the Corinthian church rebelled against Paul’s authority and teachings, and led an insurrection. That necessitated a painful visit by Paul, followed by a pointed and difficult letter. Paul had to address the issue in the Corinthian church firmly, not because of anger or personal offense, but because Paul loved the church and the people in the church. The rebellion had to be challenged and stopped so that the church would not suffer lasting harm. Paul brought swift and clear discipline, not out of anger, but out of abundant love. Disciple that is born out of love is always painful. Though it may be painful to the receiver, it is much more painful for the loving administrator.

After Paul’s disciplinary visit and strongly worded letter, the majority in the church put an end to the rebellion and disciplined the primary offender. From what we can tell, the man who led the insurrection, after being disciplined, humbled himself and repented. Part of Paul’s reason for writing the letter of 2 Corinthians was to tell the church to forgive the man. Discipline is administered, not as a reaction of anger and hurt, but as a means to encourage repentance and bring about change. Once repentance has occurred, forgiveness and restoration must follow. If discipline continues unabated after repentance has occurred, then an opportunity is opened for Satan, our adversary and accuser, to wreak more havoc than the initial wrong created. When we maintain a hardened heart toward an offender and do not offer forgiveness, bitterness is allowed to fester, and Satan will take advantage of that bitterness to sow division unto destruction. Discipline is a necessary thing – but it must be delivered in love, followed up by forgiveness and restoration after the desired affect of the discipline has occurred.

Proverbs: “The one who will not use the rod hates his son, but the one who loves him disciplines him diligently.” (‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭13:24‬ ‭CSB)

There are some who believe that withholding discipline is showing love and acceptance. The opposite is actually true. Withholding discipline is actually demonstrating that you do not love and care for someone. The rod mentioned here is most likely referring to a shepherd’s rod. If a sheep was going in the wrong direction or headed toward someplace dangerous, the shepherd would use the rod to bring correction to the wayward sheep’s path – pointing it in the right direction and keeping it from danger. A shepherd that did not use his rod did not care for his sheep. If his sheep fell off a cliff to their death or got trapped in a snare – it was no matter for him. Parents who do not bring correction to their children are the same way. Discipline is not something meted out in anger and harshness – but in love, commitment and devotion. A parent who truly loves their children will discipline them when needed, to steer them away from danger and keep them headed in the right direction.

Prayer: Lord, I thank You that You love me enough to to discipline me when it is needed. Help me to receive Your discipline and repent willingly. In areas where I have authority, help me to not shirk the responsibility of bringing correction, but to bring discipline in a measured and loving way – always ready to forgive when repentance has come. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

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