Psalms 103:10 (MSG) He doesn’t treat us as our sins deserve, nor pay us back in full for our wrongs.
- a penalty inflicted for an offense, fault, etc.; severe handling or treatment.
- to bring to a state of order and obedience by training and control.
- an act or instance of following something as an effect, result, or outcome.
What is the difference between a punishment, discipline and consequence? They can all hurt. We probably deserve them. Unless of course we are experiencing a punishment or consequence that was brought on by someone else. Not that that ever happens huh? Well there is a difference between them.
Punishments are dealt out by someone. They are almost a revenge of sorts. You did this so now I get to do this to you. Now stop furling up your brow at me. I know what you are thinking. I punish my kids when they do something wrong. Shouldn’t we punish the murderer for his crime. I didn’t mean revenge like an evil thing. I meant it like a make things even. Kind of like a pay back. Your son or daughter break the neighbors window with a ball, he or she must pay for the window. We try to even things up. If your son or daughter learns from this punishment, you have actually disciplined them.
Wow, that just brought me to another word, discipline. Punishment is meant to bring things even for the moment. Discipline is meant to learn or gain something from it. OK, the only thing
swirling in my head right now are diet and exercise. To many these are punishments…hahaha. Are they really though? Do we gain something from them? Good health, muscles, flexibility and energy. Yep we gain therefore you can no longer say they are a punishment. It is discipline!
Consequences are natural outcomes. They just happen based on what has already taken place. Kind of like a chain reaction. People often refer to it as action/reaction. You put your hand on a hot stove you get burnt. Can you or anyone else control just the outcome? No, you can only control the outcome by controlling what you did in the first place. If that is the case then what you are experiencing is not punishment, or discipline. It is a consequence.
There is someone who controls punishments, disciplines and consequences. As a matter of fact He keeps us from them a lot of the time when we don’t deserve it. He doesn’t treat us as our sins deserve (consequences), nor pay us back in full for our wrongs (punishments). As a matter of fact He loved us so much He sent His one and only Son to die for our punishments and consequences (John 3:16). We don’t have to go to Hell now. He knows we aren’t perfect and He doesn’t expect us to be. He gives us unconditional grace and love when we slip up.
Does this mean there is no discipline involved? Will we never see consequences and punishment in our lives? Absolutely not! God is and does discipline. He leads us down the path of righteousness (Ps. 23:3). That takes discipline. It takes trying and trying again until we get it right. What we don’t experience is the punishment of God not loving us anymore and turning away from us. We don’t experience the consequence of “you sinned; your going to Hell right now.” We are no longer separated from God because of our sin.
We are loved. We are dusted off our boo-boos kissed and sent on our way again. We are given advice and told how to avoid getting into the same situation. We are not just walked through it, but loved throughout it. Are there punishments that come with it, maybe. Will you face consequences for your actions, probably. But you will not get what you truly deserve. You will not be separated from God. He is still there waiting for you to put your hands out and cry help me father, so He can run to you and pick you up, cuddle you and love you. He can tell you everything is going to be alright little one. We will get through this together.
Father forgive me for my faults. Discipline me by guiding me through the paths of righteousness. I am going to walk through the valley of death, but help me not to be afraid by walking by my side. Guide me so that I can feel secure. Chase after me with love every day of my life, so I can come home to you. (Ps. 23:3-6). Thank you for not treating me as my sins deserve, nor paying me back in full for my wrongs (Ps. 103:10). Thank you for sending Jesus to die for me. To take away my sins, so that I can live with you forever (John 3:16).