The Myth of Unaccountability

As a kid, I looked forward to growing up and becoming an adult simply so I could not longer receive discipline. I hated the accountability, the owning up of my own sin and confessing my own brokenness. But we never outgrow God’s accountability. You and I are living in a fantasy world if we think we answer to no one. And I don’t hate that fact anymore; I appreciate it. Let me explain why the Lord’s discipline is a good thing.

Protected by Discipline

In the Psalms, God promises to discipline his people. Speaking of the descendants of David, God tells us this:

30 If his children forsake my law
    and do not walk according to my rules,
31 if they violate my statutes
    and do not keep my commandments,
32 then I will punish their transgression with the rod
    and their iniquity with stripes,
33 but I will not remove from him my steadfast love
    or be false to my faithfulness.
34 I will not violate my covenant
    or alter the word that went forth from my lips.
35 Once for all I have sworn by my holiness;
    I will not lie to David.
36 His offspring shall endure forever,
    his throne as long as the sun before me.
37 Like the moon it shall be established forever,
    a faithful witness in the skies.” Selah
Psalm 89:30-37

God’s discipline actually functions as a means of protection. When his people wander into sin and out from his protective care, like a shepherd with a rod, God directs his sheep back on course. And his discipline is always appropriate to our need and aimed at restoration.

Loved in Discipline

How do we know that God has good plans for us, even in discipline? Notice vv. 33-34. God’s discipline and his love never conflict; they actually go hand-in-hand. In times of discipline it may seem like God has forgotten his covenant (Ps. 89:38-51), but he will always keep his word in the end. Unlike earthly parents or guardians, who discipline with limited knowledge and often in selfishness, God disciplines us with perfect knowledge and for our good. His discipline always brings him glory, though the path may seem winding and difficult.

So God’s discipline in your life and my life is good news. Here are a few other reasons why.

  • It reassures me of God’s consistent character. If he follows through in his promise to discipline my sin, then God will surely keep his promise to deliver me.
  • It protects me from the disastrous consequences of sin. It may seem counter-intuitive, but I should pray that God disciplines me more, not less, because the consequences of sin in my life and the lives of those around me are far more devastating than experiencing the preemptive discipline of the Lord. Would you rather have God wake you up now, before the chaos of sin has run its irreversible course, or later, when you can’t go back?
  • It teaches me how to discipline my own children. There is no act in parenting I dislike more than disciplining my children. But when I have experienced the incredibly wise and gracious discipline of the Lord, I begin to understand the spirit in which I should discipline my own children. Both discipline and nurture are evidences of love. Neglect either aspect of parenting, and you are actually failing to love your children.
  • It teaches me to value covenant faithfulness in my marriage. Children must know that even in discipline, they are not condemned. If I am committed to them in love, nothing they do will cause me to forsake my steadfast love to them. Far too many children have been guilted into thinking it was their sin that broke up mom and dad, and thus they feel condemned. But it is quite the opposite. Dad and mom have forsaken steadfast love in breaking their covenant vows. Do I want to communicate in my marriage that condemnation is more powerful than steadfast love?

It is vitally important that you embrace the Lord’s discipline in your life. He loves you, wants what is best for you, and disciplines you for your good. I encourage you to thank him today for his discipline, as it reveals his fatherly love and delight over you.

11 My son, do not despise the Lord‘s discipline
    or be weary of his reproof,
12 for the Lord reproves him whom he loves,
    as a father the son in whom he delights.
Proverbs 3:11-12


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