Is God Punishing You?
Does our Heavenly Father punish us if we misbehave? Threatening children with painful punishment is one way some parents seek to induce good behavior. And the fear of punishment is sometimes enough to cause conformity to parental authority. Not always, but often. Is this God’s way? Let’s see.
“And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says, “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”” (Hebrews 12:5-6 NIV)
So, we know for certain God disciplines His children. And we also know the only reason He disciplines us is because He loves us. As our Father, it is His responsibility to train us. He wants only the best for us. And if we are not receiving regular discipline from Him, which every child of His benefits from, then that would mean we don’t belong to Him yet. That should be cause for concern.
But do not confuse discipline with punishment. They are as different as night and day. Punishment is focused on the past. It’s about righting a wrong. About getting even. About making you pay for bad behavior. Punishment is a function of law and justice. It’s the thing that law enforcement officers, judges, and prison wardens do. You get punished when you are charged and convicted of a crime. Punishment sometimes kills.
Discipline, on the other hand, is focused on the future. It is not about making you pay. It’s about making you better. It’s not about getting even; it’s about getting ahead. The sole purpose of discipline is to train you to succeed. Loving discipline will help you acquire the knowledge, develop the character, and learn the skills you need to prosper in the business of life. Discipline never kills. It always gives life.
God will never punish any of His children. He will under no circumstance inflict pain upon anyone in Christ to make him pay for his or her sins. Why? Jesus has already been charged, convicted, and punished for the sins of the whole world!
“He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:3-5 NIV)
Jesus died on the cross so that God would never again have to charge us with breaking the law and then punish us for the offense. Henceforth, God will only respond to His children as their Heavenly Father; never again as their Judge and Law-giver!
Let me illustrate. You give your sixteen year old your car to drive. Unknown to him, you are in the vicinity when you observe him going 75 mph in a 45 mph speed zone. As a father, what do you do? Arrest him? Issue him a traffic ticket? Send him to jail for reckless driving? Be his judge and punish him for breaking the law?
No, you will do none of these things because your role in his life is not to be a law enforcement officer or judge. You won’t be concerned at all about enforcing the law he just broke. What you will be extremely concerned about is keeping him from killing himself, or somebody else. And since this is your goal, you will apply loving, but strong, discipline to ensure He does not repeat this reckless behavior ever. You want him to live!
Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness.”
Child of God, He wants you to live! That’s why He will never out of anger punish you. And also why He will always out of love discipline you. Now, because He is perfect, He will never be guilty of child abuse in the name of discipline. You can be sure He will not make the mistakes earthly parents sometimes make. He will discipline you perfectly, always and only for your good!
Discipline is never pleasant. Who enjoys being rebuked? Who enjoys being denied certain privileges until he is responsible enough to handle them? I don’t, but I am glad my Heavenly Father loves me too much to sit idly by and let me raise myself. I am grateful He corrects the child He embraces. And I am His child.
Punishment? No. Discipline? Yes. Thank God, He loves you!