There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love.
1 John 4:18
I know this will surprise those of you who have read my blog before, but I couldn't help but think about parenting. Even though I know that wasn't what was originally being addressed, I think it applies.
I am a big advocate that we need to understand the difference between discipline and punishment. Discipline is about guidance and instruction; punishment tends to be reactionary and is often about control. Discipline is about hoping better for someone; punishment is about wanting someone to hurt in response to their misbehavior/bad choice.
There are many ways that we can explain this difference, but I tend to think that if we are paying attention we really know the difference between the times we are disciplining our children and the times we are punishing them. And I (again, this won't surprise anyone) am an advocate of discipline, not punishment.
When I read this scripture, I was struck by what it said. Fear and punishment are connected and love casts out fear (which would seem to indicate it casts out punishment as well).
I read that thinking of punishing children and I had to wonder...
What is it that we fear when we punish?
Do we fear the impression our obnoxious children are leaving on others?
Do we fear losing control of these little people for whom we have responsibility?
Do we fear the judgment of others regarding our parenting?
Discipline is necessary and I believe it walks hand in hand with love. But when we are loving well, perfectly as scripture says, fear will not be part of our relationships. And when fear is gone, the journey from punishment to discipline is far shorter.