It’s pre-bedtime, and Zechariah has decided it is time to act like Ghost Rider. Whipping his shirt-now-turned-flaming chain around above his head, he slams it on the ground an yells, “Hell Fire!” Well, that doesn’t sit too well with mom, so she tells him to stop saying that. What follows next? A shirt-spin, floor slam, and a foreboding, “Hell Fire!” Well, that wasn’t a kid merely forgetting that he had been told to stop, he just out right disregarded his mom. So I calmly called him over, let him know that he had disobeyed his mom, and disciplined him. Afterwards, I pulled him close and placed him in my lap as I was explaining to him that no one is angry with him. But he made it abundantly clear that he didn’t want to be near me. He stiffened every muscle he had and pulled away from me. I hugged him and let him go brush his teeth.
His actions are typical of us all. The wisdom recorded in Proverbs addresses our knee-jerk response to discipline:
11 Do not despise the Lord’s instruction, my son,
and do not loathe His discipline;
12 for the Lord disciplines the one He loves,
just as a father, the son he delights in.
Why do we do this? I’m not one to think I can list every reason, but here are two… from my own experience:
1. We don’t like to be shown our failures/error. Quite honestly, sometimes, we just think we’re too dang awesome. When someone points out something negative about us, even if they have the authority and responsibility of doing so, we tend to take offense. One word summation? PRIDE.
2. We think our relationship hinges upon perfection. Some of us are fully aware of our mistakes, and we never forgive ourselves. The guilt we refuse to let go of keeps us from those who love us. We want to be separated from them because we believe our error will not enable things to be as it was. Now that it is brought to light, we just curse ourselves to live alone with the guilt of our wrong. The funny thing about this is that while it seems to be the opposite of the first reason, it really is the same root – PRIDE. Before the wrong was brought to light, we imagined ourselves to be in good standing with the other party. But once the error has been manifested we don’t wish to be around the other party. Sometimes we coat it with false humility by saying, “They deserve better than me.” or “How can I look them in they eye, after having wronged them?” But in reality, we know that to continue on is for us to humbly accept forgiveness, and to forgive ourselves. It is to admit that while we aren’t as good as we thought, or tried to project, ourselves to be; we stand in need of forgiveness. To carry on with the relationship by accepting forgiveness is to admit our error. This isn’t easy. What if they choose to bring it up later? What if I fail again and have to go through the same humiliation of being corrected? So, in pride, we choose to separate ourselves from the other party.
So we despise that correction. But here’s the reality of it….love corrects because to let the error continue will damage us. I’m not talking punishment. Punishment is when a parent is embarrassed at the way their kid is pitching a fit in the grocery store and leans in close with teeth clenched and threatens, “you just wait ‘till we get home!” (well, that’s more like the threat of punishment, but you get the idea.) Love doesn’t punish because it’s been embarrassed, for love isn’t concerned for it’s own (I Corinthians 13:5). Love is broken over the error as it is the one in error that is going to be harmed by the very thing they’re harboring. Just as love runs over to the child crawling over to the electrical outlet, or grabs the child carelessly about to step out in front of a moving vehicle; so love corrects rebellion as it is one of the most deadly substances in the heart of a child. And when we despise correction, we despise LOVE.