I realize that I am in no way objective about this child, but I really think he’s about the cutest thing I have ever seen. And it’s a good thing too. Because as much as he is capable of being angelic, as cute and cuddly as he is, he can also be a bad, sassy little Sammy.
For example, if you go through your day giving Sammy everything he wants, when he wants it and carefully watch your tongue to ensure that you do not utter the word “no,” you will encounter a well-behaved, grateful little boy. But, ah, if you make the mistake of enforcing your own agenda on him, if you make him get dressed, or eat his sausage at the table instead of on the couch, or if you suggest he go to the bathroom without your assistance, if you dare to tell him he cannot watch Toy Story again, well then you will encounter a very different child. One that yells, one that argues, one with impressive tenacity in any and all battles of attrition. And if you attempt to get him to wear something other than an NFL jersey, most days it must be the Redskins, then you are in for a treat. You will see theatrics that Broadway simply cannot replicate, you will see a pouting lip protrude further than you thought possible, you will see anger and fury and hurt rolled into one little expression. You will meet Sassy Sammy Jackson.
What does it look like to love this child? Does loving him mean giving him everything he wants. Should I be ready to do whatever he requests, whenever he requests it? Of course not! That would be the opposite of loving him, that would be showing no regard for what kind of a person he will ultimately be. The loving thing to do, and the thing I do do, however imperfectly, is to discipline him. As the writer of Hebrews puts it, “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:11).
If I discipline my child because I love him, why do we sometimes have a hard time accepting the discipline of our Heavenly Father? Unlike any of us, He is a perfect parent. He is “compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.” When we are disciplined we can rest assured that we need it. He’s not overreacting or embarrassed or fed up. He has not “about had it.” He is not hormonal. He has not had a bad day. He is not transferring anger from work. He is not just a little stressed out from sitting in traffic. He is not tired of picking up legos or crumbs or board games. He is not sleep-deprived, caffeine deprived, or practically dehydrated.
In all things God has one motivation and one motivation only: Love. Next time we face discipline in our lives may we recognize it for what it is: the loving direction of a devoted, holy and perfect Father.