If God is All About Love Then Why Does He Punish His People?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, November 17, 2014 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

Last week, I wrote about sowing and reaping, and how you will experience the consequences for your actions, whether good or bad. To many people, however, experiencing negative consequences will be perceived as punishment from God.

We know that God is love, because He says that many times in His Word, including a number of times in 1 John 4:7-21. But what is love? Check out this blog post for a better definition. But we as humans tend to think that love is only good things, like getting flowers from your significant other, hearing kind words, and that sort of thing. But do you realize that discipline is also a form of love?

Think back to when you were a child. Did your parents discipline you? If you did something wrong, did they just let you keep doing it, or did they provide instruction and possibly a punishment for what you did? Do you think they did that because they disliked you? No! Parents discipline children as a way of giving them instruction to help them grow into mature adults.

Go read Hebrews 12:5-13 right now. Notice how the author is comparing our relationship with God to that of a parent and a child. Why is that such a good comparison? Because we are God’s children, and have been fully adopted into the family as sons and daughters (Galatians 4:4-7). God is our heavenly Father, and we need to learn from Him just as a child learns from his or her earthly father.

When you were a kid, did discipline feel like punishment? Probably, because your mind didn’t fully grasp what was going on. Looking back at a particular time of discipline, can you now see how that was really helping you become a mature adult? If a father does not love his son, he wouldn’t care how whether that son grows up to be a mature adult or not. It is BECAUSE the father loves his son so much, that he cares enough to make the effort to properly discipline him. This is how God is with us! He loves us SO much that He disciplines us for our own good!

The book of Proverbs is full of instruction for us, and it even talks about receiving discipline in many places. One of the Hebrew words used often is “musar,” which means discipline, correction, and instruction. Discipline is not punishment; discipline is instruction on how to correct your actions to become a better, more mature person. Discipline is not a bad thing! Punishment is negative and often causes fear, but discipline is training to live a better life in the days ahead.

I would challenge that if you are feeling like God is punishing you, there are one of two things happening: (1) you sowed something negative and are reaping the negative consequences (see last week’s blog post), or (2) God is providing you with discipline because He loves you.

How is God disciplining you in your life, and what can you learn from that?