Jane and her red-haired, five year old, Matt, braved a sidewalk sale at the local department store. Matt immediately dashed between racks of clothes with the zeal of a bushy red squirrel being chased by an agitated hunting dog. A pregnant, exasperated looking woman with three children in tow, one a redhead about Matt's size, trundled down the next aisle. She yelled , to no avail, as her brood dispersed among the racks. As a redhead scuried by, she adroitly reached around the rack and smacked him on top the head, commanding, "get over here now!"
With a bewildered look on his face, he dutifully obeyed. At the same moment, both Jane and the woman realized that she had mistakenly disciplined someone else's redhead. Matt was clearly more startled than hurt, but the woman's response only further irritated Jane. "Sorry kid, I thought you were one of my own", she said, as though hitting was the only logical way to get a child's attention. Jane responded icily, "my children are not accustomed to being hit by adults". Then, in a softer voice, she added, "it destroys self-esteem and teaches them that violence is a better solution to problems than love of self-control".
Children learn fearful, rebellious obedience through abuse and humiliation. Those children often suffer a lifetime of painful consequences. Self-discipline and control is best learned from parents who apply discipline and guidance in a loving manner. True, loving parents will instill discipline and self-control in their own children. They carefully and intimately cultivate responses based on each child's personality, needs and understanding. It takes work to "train a child in the way he should go, so that when he is older he does not not turn from it" (Prov. 22:6).
Some parents simply hope that institutions and strangers will raise their children. The world teaches hard, unloving lessons to those children. Teachers, coaches and other strangers sometimes dispense correction and guidance to other's children. They may even care about them personally and hope they learn the lessons of life. Still, these are not their own children and discipline by strangers has grown very risky in this litigeous society. Thus, these children are increasingly left to raise themselves, as though they had no parents.
God disciplines his own children, but not by hitting them. or simply yelling from heaven, "read the bible ... the problem is sin, dummy!". Instead, our loving heavenly Father speaks to each of his children individually, by name, in just the right way to get our attention and touch our hearts. He then lovingly guides them to the truth. God's children know their Father's voice and trust him, even when they do not know where he is leading them (Jn. 10:3-4, 16, 27).
Many are deceived into believing that everyone is God's child (Lk. 3:8, Jn.1:12, 8:44) God offered his only son, Jesus Christ, to secure the adoption of his dearly loved children (Rom.8:15, Gal 4:4-5). Those who reject Christ, refuse adoption into God's family (I Jn 2:23) and harden their hearts to God as their loving father (Rom 2:4-5). God has every right to punish disobedient non-believers, who are not his children. Instead, God shows mercy and love to all (Matt.5:45). It grieves God that some choose death among the lost and fatherless, over true life. (#113)