Inspired by You’ve Been Framed, I recently dug out an old home video. A scene of my nine-year-old brother on a blustery British beach was definitely one of my favourites.
“Tell me three things you love about mummy” our dad asked, and after a considerably long pause for thought my brother replied: “Well, she does lots of the housework, so we don’t have to do much!” This was followed by a pause in the filming – my dad obviously telling him he was after something lovely about mum herself. Back on camera, my brother made another (shorter) pause and then exclaimed: “Well… she has cold arms”, followed by “and she’s kind… and she makes sure we’re kind too.”
As well as laughing at this funny scene, those last words struck me as profound, and true. We are blessed with a very kind mum, and as a good parent she did her best to make sure that we, as her children, were kind as well.
It’s the same with God.
“It’s the child he loves that God corrects; a father’s delight is behind all this.” (Proverbs 3:12).
God loves us and is the greatest parent we could ask for. He trains us to be kind and loving just like Him.
The actual process of making sure we are kind is not always comfortable. Going through the ‘refiner’s fire’, that line we often sing about, is not a pleasant experience. As I can relate to growing up with my mum (from the stern looks to the slowly beckoning finger summoning me in from the garden when I was showing off), the process of correction is not normally something we want to embrace. Quite the opposite.
Discipline. It’s not a word we often dwell on. We’re fine with the loving-kind-God part, but when it comes to consequences and being corrected, we can find ourselves switching off, or thinking about that other person who really should be paying attention to this (or am I the only one who does that?). We know that God disciplines and punishes ‘the big ones’ (sex-before-marriage, stealing, lying…), but our odd (or not-so-odd) judgemental thoughts and comments, boasting and doing that-thing-we-know-God-has-specifically-told-us-not-to; surely those things don’t really matter.
But God often does make it clear when He is giving us a “prod and correct and guide” (Revelation 3:19). When I’m stepping over the line into pride (like the times I’ve made fantastic – in my opinion – PowerPoints for church services) God tends to let me know I’m pushing it (those PowerPoints never work on the day).
I think deep down we all know when God is reminding us to watch it; to not step over that line he’s put in place for us. It will be different issues and different lines for each of us, but we owe it to God not to shrug off his discipline, or “sulk under his loving correction” (Proverbs 3:12).
“God is educating you; that’s why you must never drop out. He’s treating you as dear children. This trouble you’re in isn’t punishment; it’s training, the normal experience of children. Only irresponsible parents leave children to fend for themselves. Would you prefer an irresponsible God? We respect our own parents for training and not spoiling us, so why not embrace God’s training so we can truly live?” (Hebrews 11: 7-8).
Let’s accept the full package of being God’s child, remembering He always has our best interests at heart, and just wants us to be more like Him, which is what the world needs.