Psalm 103 mercifully proclaims that God does not treat us as our sins deserve. It is this truth that sets Christianity apart from every other religion. All paths, except the one leading to Christ, lead to some form of self-justification. This truth has important implications for parenting.
It is important that children not be treated as their sins deserve! At first glance, this seems obvious. But, we must ask, how do our children believe they are treated. Words like accountability, responsibility, and obedience can come to be equated with fair treatment. (These words are wonderful words in their proper place.) When children sin they should be held accountable. This sounds right, but is it? In Psalm 103, David is rejoicing and praising God that he is not treated as he deserves to be treated. Conversely, he would be miserable if he was treated as he deserved to be treated. Parents, there is a lesson here for you.
Discipline is not the same as fair, deserved treatment. Biblical discipline, in all of its forms, administered under the direction of the Holy Spirit in his word, is gracious, loving, and merciful. Biblical discipline is a sign of love, not equitable, fair treatment. Hebrews 12:7 says that we are to endure hardship as discipline because God is treating us as sons. The writer of Hebrews quotes Proverbs 3 in the twelfth chapter:
My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline
and do not resent his rebuke,
because the Lord disciplines those he loves,
as a father the son he delights in. Proverbs 3:11&12
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