“For three sins…even four, I will not turn back my wrath.”
My husband can be quite the funny guy. Sometimes, when the kids come home from school he will tell one of them that he got a call from the teacher and wants to know what happened. Whichever child he chooses to pick on gets a deer-in-the-headlight- look, obviously combing every memory of the day gone by to see if there is anything they possibly could have done to warrant a phone call. After a few moments the poor victim of the practical joke finally realize they’ve done nothing and everyone starts laughing. Except this one time, when my middle child was in second grade, he confessed to pushing a girl at recess. Even now, six years later, we all laugh about how what was intended for a joke turned out to be a time of confession.
We always have those moments with our kids when we really have to call them out on their behavior. To me, it’s the most dreaded time of parenting. In the first chapters of Amos we see God calling out the Nations of Israel sin by sin. Their sins boiled down to absence of worship of God and absence of justice. But the sins were many: violence, sending friends into exile, broken promises, lack of mercy, extensive anger, greed, disrespect, disobedience, stealing, mistreatment of the poor and sexual immorality. My guess if you really looked at this list, your family struggles with much of the same. Siblings hitting each other, friends being mistreated, anger issues among the youngest, disrespect toward parents and flat out disobedience of what you’ve asked to be done.
Most parents make excuses for their kids: they’re tired, they’ve had a rough day, they didn’t really mean it. We don’t want to see our kids suffer and most of the time it takes a commitment from us to follow through with discipline. Anyone who has ever grounded a child knows that it’s more punishment for ourselves than it is for the child. Who wants to deal with that?
But God dealt very seriously with his people when it came to their behavior. Time and again we see God deliver his message through Amos:
“I will not turn away its punishment”
God called them out on their sin, and explained specifically how he was going to handle it: I will send fire, I will cut off, I shall devour palaces, the strong shall not strengthen his power. God says, “I will punish you for all your iniquities.”
The word punishment has become taboo in the last decade. We should never punish a child, only discipline. Punishment has become a dirty word meaning violence and harshness. Discipline or punishment, whatever you want to call it, God was making himself very clear. He would not tolerate the Israelites behavior any longer. And it would require drastic actions to put his children back in their place.
Same is true for us. There are times we must be drastic in the way we discipline our children so that they really get the message and understand who is the authority. So many families, maybe even yours, are living out of balance because your children have too much power. What they want, what they say is what goes. This is what the Israelites thought, too.
God is clear with us, his children, that He is the authority and that he sets that standard. There is no grey area. And although God deals with us gently, he also deals with us with tremendous justice. We should desire to parent our children by His example to us.
Share with me:
Is God your authority and standard?
Where did you learn your parenting skills from?
Do your kids have too much say-so in your home?
What does the word discipline or punishment mean to you?