I’m learning more and more each day on what it means to be a father, on what it means to be a parent. I know I’ll be learning for the rest of my life, I get that, and I want to share what I’m learning with you and what God is teaching me in hopes that it’ll serve as an encouragement to you no matter where you find yourself today.
Let’s just say sometimes having a 4yr old and a 3yr old can be a little crazy. It’s a blast, it’s tiring, it’s emotional, it’s fun, it’s exhausting, and it’s amazing. The ability to watch a human being grow up, take their first steps, say their first words, make sinful choices, and make God glorifying choices is all incredible, and it all seems to happen at the same time.
Teaching them grace and what it means has been challenging. So one of the ways we have started to do that is when our older daughter gets in trouble and clearly deserves specific punishments we have laid out for her, there are times we take the punishments away, talk about what grace is, and have her pray and confess to Jesus. That way she can see sometimes we don’t get what we deserve at the end of the day and that Jesus gives us grace.
However, being the wise 4yr old she is, now every time she is in trouble, she is quick to point out to us how we need to show her grace in the situation. In all situations. Every, single, time. We explain to her sometimes even though there is grace, there are still punishments and consequences for our actions. You can tell she is somewhat confused by this when we explain it to her but she believes us. That got me thinking, how often do we seem confused by the same thing?
For those who follow Jesus, we know we are forgiven for all eternity, for all of our past, present, and future sins because of what Jesus has done for us on the cross. We have been given grace when we didn’t deserve it. However, sometimes we fall into the wrong line of thinking because sometimes we think when we sin, Jesus will just “show us grace,” without any punishments or consequences.
Now as a parent I can see clear as day as to how grace AND consequences are both acts of love.
Without grace, there would just be law and consequences for everything.
Without consequences, there would just be grace that would be taken advantage of in all situations.
We need both.
God in His infinite wisdom set things up to work this way. Not because He is too hard or too soft on us, but because He perfectly loves us. He is our provider and made a way for us through Jesus by giving us grace and allowing us to come to Him through Christ. He is our Father by allowing consequences to happen to us as well. Imagine if there were no consequences for children, how do you think that would go? That would not end up very well and it’s the same lesson for us.
“Consider Him who endured from sinners such hostility against Himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?
“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”
It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” – Hebrews 12:3-11
The Lord disciplines us because He loves us, just like how we discipline our children because we love them. Without that, the Bible says we are not His children. God disciplines us for our own good, that we ultimately will become holy, as He is holy. It seems painful now, but later will yield peaceful fruit.
Regardless of where you are today, know that Jesus loves you. It’s possible you’re going through a struggle right now and I can’t speak to every situation, but maybe it’s a part of discipline that God is bringing you through to become more holy. Maybe you need to spend more time with Him and less time doing other things that you may be doing. In either case, know He is patient, He is loving, He is calling you, and He does not wish for anyone to perish, but for all to come to repentance.
“The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” – 2 Peter 3:9