Discipline Like Christ

Since my previous post, The Power of Forgiveness, something radical happened: I looked into the spiritual mirror and discovered I looked nothing like Jesus. Particularly in the way I was disciplining my children. Too many endless days had seeped into too many sleepless nights.

Without even realizing it, I had reached my boiling point. And that’s the perfect stomping grounds for Satan to do his thing. It’s like a petri dish for evil.

Before I knew it, I was emulating the Enemy instead of the Father. Anger paraded through my body to the beat of my children’s outbursts. My eyes saw only the disobedient acts from my toddler. And my spirit ached deeply, furious with her new refusal of nap time.

My calloused heart wanted to get out of there—to go anywhere as long as it wasn’t there, in the middle of the mess, for one more second.

So, I turned to scripture to discover how Jesus disciplined those who probably drove Him crazy sometimes. Account after account, people challenged Him, questioned Him, doubted Him, even accused Him of things punishable by death.

At that point, my kids’ whining didn’t seem so bad.

But what did Jesus do in the face of all that turmoil? All that heat?

The only times He fled were if His life was in danger (Luke 4:20-30; John 11:53-54) or if He knew He would be of no help (Matthew 13:54-58).

Otherwise, he walked right into the mess. He willingly approached the resistant and obnoxious. The sinful. The loud. The whining. The tears.

He’s like a spiritual EMT, speeding to the scene to revive the sickest in their greatest moment of need. Zacchaeus. Thomas. The woman at the well, and the other caught in adultery.


So, I tried it His way.

When my children morphed into wildfires the next morning, I didn’t run. And I certainly didn’t start the ignition on my car.

Instead, I walked to my screaming, crying toddler. I approached the loudness and the whining. But this time, I did it with my arms open wide.

“Can I have a hug?” I asked.

She looked at me confused. Where had her devilish mother gone? The girl pressed herself into me, resting her little head on my shoulder. The hiccups in her chest subsided.

“I love you, Marie,” I said into her hair. Then, gently, I rebuked her and taught her what to do next time.

“Okay, Mommy,” she nodded and sniffed.

Within a day or two, the disobedience and outbursts ceased. By the end of the week, she proposed to me.

“I sure do love you, kid,” I said.

“I love you, too, Mommy.” She beamed. “Someday, when I’m a grown up, I’m gonna marry you.”

Laughter bubbled from the pit of my soul. How fitting, I thought. Christ pursues me this way each day, and I want to be His bride, too.

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