Am I raising Pharisees or Christians? Or What is the point of discipline?
In reading through an old journal, I found the following entry:
“When You present the Israelites with a covenant in which it is impossible for them to fulfill their part, You are not looking for a people who will zealously declare that they are able to do what You have called them to. No, You are looking for a people that know Your heart - fierce and tender both. A people that understand that You have asked them to be holy as You are holy - and it's impossible. Therefore, the only choice is to fall on Your mercy, while recognizing their weakness. "I can't, but I want to!" Lord, only You are holy, and I know that if I try to approach You according to my ability to conform to Your standards, I will be killed - I cannot do it. I cannot simply hope that You will overlook or not see my shortcomings. I must approach You knowing that You will/would/could/should kill me according to a standard of righteous living. And I must trust in Your mercy and grace, that as I approach in humility, knowing full well my weakness, Your loving kindness reaches out toward me.”
God knows we cannot fulfill the requirements of the law in our own strength. So what is the point of the law? Obedience does have many practical, tangible benefits. But obedience is not the purpose of the law.
The law does not change our hearts. It just exposes them. The law exposes our need for grace. (Rom 3:19-20) Disobedience exposes not only our weakness, but also how we respond within the relationship. Upon whose terms is the relationship repaired? Do I think I mend the relationship by conforming my behavior? Or does God mend the relationship by His grace poured out on me?
Faced with my weakness, do I run and hide from the Lord? Do I try to cover my tracks or repair the breach in my heart by renewed vigor? OR do I run to the cross, knowing the Father's love for me has made a way - the Only Way - for me to be restored by grace through faith in Jesus. Do I really believe that His blood is enough?
The discipline of the Lord draws me to Him and transforms me. It’s His kindness that leads me to repentance. (Rom. 2:4)
Does my discipline of my children mirror that? Why do I train them? How do I respond when they fail to obey? Do I treat their disobedience as a rejection of my affection? Am I gentle with them in their immaturity? Do I woo them back into relationship with kindness (never negating the true repercussions of sin)? When they repent and turn their hearts toward me again in openness and love, do I receive them freely? Do I keep my arms open, or do I hold them at arm's length until they've "proven" themselves with changed behavior? Do I hold a grudge? Who repairs the breach? Am I mostly concerned with their behavior, or with their hearts?