the heart of the matter

My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord…For the Lord disciplines the one he loves…

Hebrews 12 goes on to say that a parent who loves his child disciplines them, just like God disciplines us. It’s a painful process, but it is designed to teach us submission to Him in all things. When we let go of the control that we think we have and submit to the things He’s called us to then that’s when we find life, real life. He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share his holiness.

Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live?

I’ve noticed something in myself recently. When I’m willing to submit to God in humility, then I’m much more willing to submit to those around me in service and love and learn the things God’s trying to teach me. There’s something in us that wants to be in control of our lives, to not be told what to do, to not submit to anyone, even God.

When it comes to parenting my children, I want everyone to be in harmony and get along and just do what they’re supposed to do. I love my kids; they know that, and I want them to do what I’ve asked them to do out of love and respect, and not out of fear. I think God wants us to obey Him because we love Him and not because we’re fearful that there might be consequences when we don’t obey.

But I’m not God, and in being pretty laid back in this area and just wanting everyone to get along, I have failed to discipline as I should have at times. And as a result, one of my kids gets really angry when told to do stuff she doesn’t like or doesn’t want to do, especially her school work. And to maintain peace, I have let things slide. I haven’t dealt with her lack of obedience as I should have. And of course, her anger usually takes over because clear boundaries have not been set, and because I’ve sometimes responded to her anger and lack of obedience with anger myself.

But the biggest wake-up call for me the other day was when it occurred to me that if this child is not willing to submit to my authority, then she won’t submit to God’s authority later. She won’t one day magically wake up and submit to Him. It starts now. I had to repent and apologize to her for my lack of obedience to God in this. Because the biggest mission of my life and my greatest calling is that my children walk in truth and for them to do what God calls them to do in submitting their lives to Him.

There’s a documentary/movie called Buck. Buck is the ultimate horse whisperer, and he has an incredible story. That man can do amazing things with horses.  He says he doesn’t help people with horse problems. He helps horses with people problems. Horses are a reflection of their masters. They just do what they’ve seen done. Same as kids. My kids aren’t me, but they are definitely a reflection. If I’m an angry and unforgiving or manipulative person, my kids will more than likely reflect my behavior as well.

In the movie, Buck shows that if you jerk the reins of a horse, the horse will automatically jerk its head back in response. If we lash out in anger toward those around us trying to get them to do what we want them to do, chances are the anger will be reciprocated, and fear not love will be the result. But if you hold the reins firmly, the horse will come around and eventually do what you want it to do in submission. I’m in the process of learning to hold the reins firmly but also gently.

Because, really,  the point is not behavior modification. The point is my children’s hearts. Who cares if I can make my children do what I want them to do by behaving perfectly in front of the world or even in my home, but yet have failed to address their heart issues of sin and lack of repentance? Unless there is brokenness in my life, brokenness in their lives, we will never yield to God’s authority and discipline. Discipline is a good thing. It doesn’t really seem like it at the time, but God claims us as sons and daughters if we’re willing to submit to it. He actually loves those He disciplines, and the fruit of it becomes rather obvious, especially in teenagers and children.

Discipline from God produces the fruit of peace and righteousness to those who are willing to be trained by it. (Hebrews 12)


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