Punishment

Discipline comes in many forms. For some of us, it is the focus that drives us every day. For others, discipline means teaching moments and for a few, it means punishment. When my son was 8 or 9, I told him that we would spend the summer working on his discipline toward completing his daily chores. At the end of that summer I asked him, having had no further discussion on the topic and in front of a crew at one of our fire stations, what was this the summer of? Without missing a beat, he said that it was “the summer of punishment!” as he raised his hand into the air. I never had the conversation with him about having order nor was he ever disciplined for anything but his take-a-way was the summer of punishment. What do the people who you discipline take away from the experience? If the punishment was punitive, chances are they just took away a little bitterness. Our job as leaders is to be sure that the punishment fits the crime. If they didn’t know how to or were not equipped to do the job, how hard can you really be on them? A friend once told me that we shouldn’t kill an ant with an anvil. It was good advice about compassion.

“As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him…” Psalm 103:13

Discipline takes on two roles – punishment and order. The order that discipline brings is getting out of bed every day 5am to go to the gym for that dreaded spin class or the order that breeds commitment to seeing a job through to the end. Not wanting to repeat myself but the work we do here is pleasing to God, we should have the discipline to do our best – always. On the other side, fear and punishment are not often thought of when we think of our Father in Heaven. We all received punishment for the original sin of Adam and Eve. Child labor is now painful, we have to work the fields for our food and the price of our daily sin is death here on earth. We should fear God! The good news in this passage is that the Lord will have compassion on those of us who fear Him. God loves us and He has proven that by sending His son to die for our sins. We no longer have to fear the punishment of our sins; Jesus Christ did that for us on the cross at Calvary. God wanted His children close to him and while we will not stay in this life for eternity, we will share eternity with our Father in Heaven. A pretty fair punishment if you ask me.

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