Discipline is the Second Chance

“Why can’t they just show me grace and forget about it?” I repeated this to myself as I pondered my predicament: a 7th grader who had recently been caught cheating on a test. My parents and teacher decided that even though I asked for forgiveness, I would still have to be disciplined for my actions. Alongside receiving a zero, I would have many of my treasured privileges revoked. At the time, I thought their decision was cruel. After all, as Christians, weren’t they obligated to show me grace? In my eyes, grace meant that my sin would be recognized, but ultimately overlooked; I wanted a second chance, not discipline. 

What does it mean to receive grace? Typically, the response is something along the lines of “forgiveness” or “undeserved mercy.” While this is accurate, there are often underlying beliefs associated with grace that are unbiblical, evidenced in my 7th grade perspective. Our culture generally believes that receiving grace means there is no discipline. Their defense? Jesus died on the cross for our sins to save us from eternal damnation. Essentially, Christ paid a debt so that we would not have to experience punishment. Hence the current perspective on grace. This is, however, a misunderstanding: punishment and discipline are not synonymous. Punishment looks to the past; discipline looks to the future. Punishment holds no regard for what will become of the perpetrator, it merely seeks justice. On the other hand, discipline seeks to send a message to the culprit in order to train them to love what is good in the future. 

On the cross, Christ paid a debt we could never pay, saving us from eternal punishment. But God also disciplines as well. “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.’ Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all” (Hebrews 12:5-8). 

God disciplines us because he loves us and wants to conform us into the image of his Son, Jesus Christ. We would not be his children if he decided to not discipline us. As believers, we must change our attitude to discipline. Shepherding a child is not a matter of choosing between discipline and a second chance. Discipline is the second chance. When we are confronted with the foolishness of our ways, we truly receive the opportunity to grasp grace and move forward. The truth is that the opposite of love is not hate, it’s apathy. We need to love our children enough to discipline them. Looking back, I’m thankful that my parents loved me enough to discipline me, and I pray that we as The Church will love our youth enough to faithfully discipline them as well. 

1 Douglas Wilson, Why Children Matter

2 Biblica, NIV Bible

3 John Mark Comer, Loveology

by Samuel Norris, Dean


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