Finally we see that the children of God in Judah refused to listen to instruction. As a result God was bringing judgment. Parents, in the home, when your children refuse to heed instruction, when they disobey, you need to understand the crucial difference between punishment and discipline.
Punishment is “a penalty paid for an offense.” It is the price to pay.
What is at the root of the word discipline? Disciple. To discipline means “training to act in accordance with the rules or to develop and improve a skill.”
God here offers instruction – this is discipline. If they walk in righteousness they can walk with God. He tells them how. He instructs them in what to do. You need to instruct your children. Discipline them. Punishment exacts a price but offers no growth, no rehabilitation, no grace. Use every opportunity as a teaching opportunity. You see, we do not only discipline in the case of wrong doing. We can teach when they do wrong, and when they do right! Reaffirm righteousness by the way you live and the way you instruct them.
Hebrews 12 tells us this about God our heavenly Father, “3 For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. 4 You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin. 5 And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: “My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; 6 For whom the Lord loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives.”
Letting a child do whatever they want to do is not the loving thing to do! Love demonstrates itself in discipline.
Hebrews 12 goes on, “7 If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? 8 But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. 9 Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. 11 Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”
What is the purpose for instruction in righteousness? It is not merely to conform outward behavior to some acceptable standard! It is to produce in us holiness.
What is the complaint against Judah? You have polluted yourselves. You are not holy. Holiness comes by listening to and obey the instruction of God’s Word.
We have a lesson to learn from Judah then. If we just let our family go their own way we are despising the Word of God. We must sow righteousness. And what we sow we will reap. Judah is going to learn the lesson the hard way, having rejected the Word of God for so long. Today let us evaluate where we are in our families, in our church. Are we worshipping idols? Are we setting an example that says we can claim to follow Christ and then live however we want? Are we polluting ourselves with the world and its lusts thinking we can sin without consequence?
Today let us turn for instruction to the Word of God, where we know, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”