Someone this weekend discussed the scripture Hebrews 12:6 “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.”
There is a difference between discipline and punishment. God wants to discipline us, not punish us, and certainly not abuse us. Discipline teaches a lesson, while punishment demands condemnation for an action or misdeed. Discipline is positive. Punishment is negative. Abuse is an extreme form of punishment, where the punishment exceeds the crime, is unrelated to (or unassociated with) the crime, or where a person is punished without reason or unreasonably (ie because the abuser is angry and needs someone to “take it out on”)- abuse is misuse of punishment.
If something bad happens and we start running through our memories to see if we’ve done wrong, that’s not of God. When He disciplines us, He’ll also make sure we know exactly what we have done, and how to do better next time. There won’t be any vague “You’ve been bad. You are very bad,” condemnatory statements. That’s condemnation. Discipline, however, comes with love.
Romans 8:1 [There is] therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
If we are condemned, we fear. God doesn’t want us to be afraid of Him! He’s our Father. He loves us. “The fear of the Lord” in the bible refers to a healthy respect for God. It means to honor Him- not be terrified of Him.
God wants us to learn from mistakes. He disciplines, because discipline leaves hope, faith, and trust intact, and teaches a specific lesson. He disciplines in love. He isn’t waiting to strike us down for being human- for making a mistake or even for a deliberate “sin”. He loves us.