Saturday, August 15, 2015

Discipline vs Punishment

My Jesus Calling devotional book got me today. I will admit, I don't handle things well sometimes. I do turn to God, but sometimes, I don't let it go and give it to Him fully.

Today my devotional said this:

"I am the God of all time and all that is. Seek Me not only in morning quietness but consistently throughout the day. Do not let unexpected problems distract you from My Presence. Instead, talk with Me about everything, and watch confidently to see what I will do.

Adversity need not interrupt your communion with Me. When things go "wrong", you tend to react as if you're being punished. Instead of this negative response, try to view difficulties as blessings in disguise. Make ME your Refuge by pouring our your heart to Me, trusting Me at all times."

Ok, God. I hear ya!

Do you experience stuff like this too? You read something that seems like it is just for you at just the right time? My goodness. Anyway....

Discipline is defined as "activity, exercise or regimen that develops or improves a skill; training". Punishment is defined as "a penalty inflicted for an offense or fault."

Discipline is so you will learn aka "train" yourself to not do that activity again. Punishment is just getting in trouble. 

There are a lot of people who see God as someone who will punish them if they do something wrong. I believe He will lovingly discipline us, when needed, but His method for that is different from what we understand. We know parents punishing us. So we associate God in that same way.

God does not MAKE bad things happen to us. God doesn't say, "Ok Jill, you aren't living for me right now, so I'm going to cause you to lose this baby and get you to come back to Me."

What kind of loving God would do that?

On the flip side of that, yes, God can stop things. In my example, and personally in my life, I have a health condition that causes miscarriage. My body did it, and God TURNED it around for my good. I came back to God because He touched me and helped me through a terrible time in my life.

Honestly, before I grasped this in my heart and mind, I used to say, "God let me lose the twins to get me to come back to Him." OUCH! How wrong that statement was. I was listening to religion and legalism at the time.

That's like saying, "I let me son fall of a skateboard so he would need me to watch over him in the ICU for two days."


Now, let's say this... if a Christian is going off God's plan and decides to, oh, I don't know, start using drugs.... they've been living for God and start turning away and doing drugs... something totally out of character for them. 

In that case, God might step in some how to get them to stop. It's not a punishment. It might be a disappointed parent who really gets in their face. Or their Pastor trying to talk some sense into them.

If something bad happens like they get beat up because they are hanging out with the wrong people, that's a consequence of their wrong doing. God wouldn't send a gang to beat them up. 

I hope I am writing this in a way you can understand it.

Things will go wrong in our lives. But it's not always God's "fault". We tend to blame Him or others for our issues and choices... it happens. However, we need to just own up to it sometimes. 

God loves us. He wants what is best for us. So, yes, He will discipline us... but He will also turn the bad around for our good. He promises that in Romans 8: 28 says, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose." 

God wants what's best for you. He has a plan and purpose for your life. It's a plan to prosper you, not harm you. (Jeremiah 29:11) Keep that in mind next time you think He's punishing you.

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