Lessons from a Toddler

I wonder if disciplining me is as frustrating for God as it is for me to discipline my toddler? We don’t beat him, we don’t spank him, we don’t even wash his mouth out with soap. I can tell you from experience that, yes, Zest soap tastes just like it smells.

After some trial and error we found out that having him sit in the corner for a pre-determined amount of time seems to work. Essentially, he sits in timeout on the wall in our hallway until either he calms down or the timer goes off, whichever comes first.

Do you have a toddler? Is your toddler the angel that mine isn’t? No worries, if you don’t have a toddler I’m sure that you were the epitome of perfection as a toddler.

But here’s what I’m getting at: I love my toddler, as a result when he disobeys he is disciplined. He disobeys, rebels, errs, he sins. I love him, therefore, I step in to discipline and correct him…but most importantly, to protect him. I think this is a huge part of God’s love that we misunderstand.

We view God’s discipline as disappointment or punishment or hatred of who we are and/or what we have done. When in fact, his discipline is an expression of his hesed, agape love for us. You see, God’s love is not restrictive, it is protective.

Think about Adam and Eve. One strike and they’re out?! The other day I was watching JV and Varsity baseball teams at the local high school practice. I’m a football guy. I was never good at baseball; and honestly a little afraid of the ball (but I wasn’t afraid of a 6’3″ 275lb football player running full steam at me…go figure). I know enough about baseball to not fully understand the infield fly rule…but to understand that it takes three strikes and you’re out. Even some justice systems will give you three strikes before the harshest penalty is levied. But God (there’s that phrase) only gives one strike. One. That doesn’t seem fair… It’s not fair that Jesus died on a cross. We forget that God is not preoccupied with fairness; he is consumed by holiness and justice.

Back to Adam and Eve. They sin one time and their relationship with God is broken. They sin one time and they’re disciplined. They’re kicked out of the Garden for-e-ver. And why? Because God loves them. You see the result of their action was eternal…it now required a Savior.

Adam and Eve sinned. They rebelled against God. They decided that they knew better than God. But here’s why God’s decision to expel Adam and Eve from the Garden is both discipline and love: “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8 NIV). There’s that phrase again, But God. That phrase is hope. That phrase in Romans 5.8 shows us that discipline is love.

What is your initial reaction when God disciplines you?
“God’s love is protective, not restrictive,” how does this impact your view of God’s discipline?


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