The Bible talks about how God responds to His children when they do wrong. It clearly teaches that God disciplines them, not punish them.
Hebrews 12:6 “For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and He scourges every son whom He receives.” (NASB). Although the word ‘scourges’ in the NIV is translated as ‘punishes’ in the same verse, Romans 8:1 says that, “Therefore there is now no condemnation (no punishment) for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
So it is clear how God treats His children when they sin. As parents, we need to look to God for how we should respond to our children when they do wrong. We should discipline them and not punish them.
What’s the difference between punishment and discipline? Below is a simple table differentiating the two.
Purpose To inflict penalty To promote growth
Focus The past The future
Motivation Anger Love
Result Unhealthy fear, guilt, more anger| Security
Looking at the table above, the difference is really not obvious on the outside or on what we do, but it really starts from the inside – our motive as parents, our focus, and the purpose. Do we discipline our child because he irritates us or because we love him and want to correct him and point him to the right direction. So next time we do some spanking or whatever means we discipline our child, let us check first what’s inside our hearts as we discipline them and pray that God would give us the right motivation and change our hearts even as we give the proper disciplinary action.