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Daily Devotional: Wednesday, June 28 - Discipline vs. Punishment

“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” — Hebrews 12:11

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Nobody likes to be disciplined. As a kid, I dreaded my parents’ discipline, but that was because I didn’t understand it. Hebrews 12 gives us great insight on the difference between punishment and discipline. Verse 11 says, “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”

The writer of Hebrews makes a foundational point we can all glean from. He reminds us that although painful, God allows discipline in our lives for our ultimate good. Earlier in the passage, he tells us that the Lord actually disciplines those He loves (v. 6). For many of us, that seems backwards. If God really loves us, why does He discipline us? Why would He spiritually “spank” or “punish” us? If God’s character is dripping with love, why would He do this?

One important thing we must remember is there is a big difference between punishment and discipline. Punishment is birthed out of fear and anger. Discipline is birthed out of relationship and love. A parent can see the harm that can come from certain behaviors of their child, so a parent lovingly disciplines that child to prevent them from doing those things again. Conversely, punishment does not have the good of the child in mind, just the emotions of the authority figure. Very often, punishment is done out of anger.

Throughout the story of God in the Bible, we clearly see that God is in the business of building up His people, not punishing them.

— Reza Zadeh, Denver Broncos chaplain

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