Gentle correction

accusingFingerGodly discipline allows children to please parents. It fits the punishment to the crime. Children come to understand cause and effect, sowing and reaping. Big crime gets a big punishment; little crime receives a little punishment.

With abuse, punishment is arbitrary and often unfair, but Godly discipline distinguishes between a mistake and a deliberate sin.

Or if someone with a stone in his hand strikes and kills another person, it is murder, and the murderer must be put to death.  Numbers 35:17 (NLT)

But suppose someone pushes another person without having shown previous hostility, or throws something that unintentionally hits another person, or accidentally drops a huge stone on someone, though they were not enemies, and the person dies. If this should happen, the community must follow these regulations in making a judgment between the slayer and the avenger, the victim’s nearest relative: The community must protect the slayer from the avenger and must escort the slayer back to live in the city of refuge to which he fled. Numbers 35:22–25 ( NLT)

Our High Priest, Jesus, corrects gently, because he empathizes with our weakness. In the same way, good parents model love and acceptance for themselves and others as they move between their ideal self and their real self. This encourages growth.

Now that we know what we have—Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God—let’s not let it slip through our fingers. We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.  Hebrews 4:14–16 (The Message)

Every high priest selected to represent men and women before God and offer sacrifices for their sins should be able to deal gently with their failings, since he knows what it’s like from his own experience. But that also means that he has to offer sacrifices for his own sins as well as the peoples’. Hebrews 5:1–2 (The Message)

Expertise comes through training in increments, step by step. Children need opportunities to learn skills and watch their parents model expertise themselves. This is how children learn that they can learn and how they develop a belief that they can tackle any task. Expecting performance without any instruction is abuse.

Instead of giving you God’s Law as food and drink by which you can banquet on God, they package it in bundles of rules, loading you down like pack animals. They seem to take pleasure in watching you stagger under these loads, and wouldn’t think of lifting a finger to help. Matthew 23:4 (The Message)

Godly discipline is meant to cut off guilt—to clothe the child in righteousness. Every time a parent disciplines his child, he expects him to draw a conclusion from it, to remember what he was taught.

He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west. Psalm 103:12 (NLT)

For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness. Hebrews 12:10  (NLT)

Abuse does the opposite. It attaches guilt to the child, and the child can’t let it go. For example, a mother’s continual lecturing or a father’s listing of the wrongs and a catalog of what should have been can stop a child from actually learning and integrating a lesson. Tell him why, explain the punishment. Sometimes this step needs to be repeated, and if the punishment isn’t working, it may be necessary to up the ante a little bit. But prolonged lectures steal from the child the right to draw for themselves the right thinking you are trying to teach—to learn from their mistakes and to own them for themselves. In his book Changes That Heal Henry Cloud says it this way:

“If the questioning and learning of adolescence goes well, the people who come out the other end can be called adults. They are their own person, responsible for themselves; they leave home, establish a life of their own with their own talents, directions, purpose, power, office, influence, and expertise, and have a good beginning in healthy submission. They no longer look to other adults to perform parental functions for them (such as thinking for them or telling them what to believe and how to live). Other adults are looked to as experts who can offer advice and input, but each person is responsible for his or her own life.”

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