My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights (Prov. 3:11-12).
We may create some shock by asserting, “The Lord will never punish his children,” but that is actually the truth. We understand this truth when we see how God’s Word distinguishes discipline and punishment.
Punishment is designed to inflict a penalty in response for a wrong. God will not punish his children because the penalty for all our past, present, and future sin was placed on Jesus. Jesus paid it all!
Discipline is a different matter. The goal of discipline is not to inflict a penalty but to promote maturity. Punishment and discipline may feel similar (both hurt) but their goal is very different. Punishment imposes harm for past misdeeds, but discipline intends help for future blessing.
Punishment is for criminals. Discipline is for children. Punishment follows condemnation. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
Punishment is for those of whom society disapproves. Discipline is for those in whom God delights. Punishment is administered with a scowl. Discipline is administered with tears. Punishment pours out wrath for a wrong. God’s discipline comes out of the heart of a Father.
So, even when we are in the throes of the worst discipline heaven can bring, we are loved no less. God only disciplines those he loves to turn us from sin and to him. Let God’s discipline turn you to the One who loves you enough to harm himself to help you.
Father, thank you for the love that disciplines me, so that I turn from the harm of sin and receive the blessings of my Savior. Help my heart to receive this love as you intend.