Why Punishment Isn’t a Bad Word

Apply thine heart unto instruction,
and thine ears to the words of knowledge.

Withhold not correction from the child:
for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die.

Thou shalt beat him with the rod,
and shalt deliver his soul from hell.

Proverbs 23:12-14

Many people are afraid of the word “punishment.” I have been myself.

“Jesus took our punishment, so who are we to inflict punishment on our children?” some of us say.

I think I am finally learning the answer to this question. Not that I have all the answers. I lost all the answers the day I brought my firstborn home from the hospital. 🙂 The more children I have and the older they get, the more I really that I didn’t even know the questions!

Punishment – not just discipline, which is a boatload of things, but actual punishment – is necessary. It’s necessary now and in eternity. Why else would Jesus Christ have willingly endured such torture? Punishment is a fact of life.

Punishment is not something that we can skip because Jesus paid it all.

Yes, Jesus took took our punishment, the divine wrath that was awaiting us for eternity, but He didn’t take our speeding ticket for us. He didn’t do our community service for us after we littered as we passed a state trooper. Jesus didn’t write 100 times, “I will not forge my parent’s name on my report card.”

Jesus took the punishment of all punishments: the wrath of God against every person who breaks His laws.

Now God is not angry with us because we lied about our report cards, watched that terrible movie at the sleepover, had an abortion or committed suicide. If we receive God’s gift of eternal life that Jesus purchased for us with His blood, we will never face the wrath of God we deserve to face.

That doesn’t mean that Jesus took the punishment from our teachers, parents, or government agencies we deserve. If we lie, cheat, steal or kill, people around us have the obligation to do something about it.

Laws require teeth or no one would keep them.

Just because a day of judgment is coming doesn’t mean we never face punishment for wrongdoings on earth. In fact, the very act of earthly punishment reminds us to prepare for the great day of judgment.

When we parents fail to punish our children properly – justly, without any emotion or anger, the way a good judge would – we are hurting our children.

If we never punish our children, we aren’t telling them the truth.

We aren’t preparing them for the real world where state troopers sit in wait, just looking for someone to send to court.

We aren’t preparing them for the university dean who will kick them out for cheating.

We aren’t preparing them for the judge who will sentence them to life in prison without possibility of parole without batting an eye.

The worst thing is that we aren’t preparing them for the day of judgment, when each person will have to stand before his Creator and answer for himself.

If a child doesn’t have any experience with being punished, how will he understand the sacrifice of Jesus, who was punished in his place for all the child’s sins?

It is not love to withhold careful punishment. It’s every bit as abusive as the parent who snatches his child up in the heat of the moment and beats him.

One feels the pain now. The other feels it for eternity.

O Lord, correct me, but with judgment;
not in thine anger, lest thou bring me to nothing.

Jeremiah 10:24

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