The Most Important Task

Yael Eckstein  |  June 9, 2023

Yael and her family on Shabbat having dinner

Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the LORD your God disciplines you. — Deuteronomy 8:5

As we celebrate the men in our lives this month, enjoy these devotions looking at the defining characteristics of godliness that we can glean from the biblical men of faith — and how we can pass on those values to our children.

I once read about a father who was struggling with parental discipline. He had instructed his child to call home whenever he reached a friend’s house to confirm that he got there okay. As the boy got more comfortable with his independence, he became remiss in calling his parents.

He forgot once, and the parents overlooked it. The second time, the father felt that he had to do something. He picked up the phone to call his son and scold him, but just as it began to ring, he changed his mind and hung up to give his son some more time. A few seconds later, the boy called his father and said, “I almost forgot to call you, but then the phone rang once and I remembered!”

As the father hung up the phone, he wondered, “How often do we think of God as One who waits to punish us when we step out of line? I wonder how often He rings just once, hoping we will phone home.”

The Most Important Task

While many picture God as a grandfatherly figure with a long white beard, Deuteronomy 8:5 reminds us that God relates to us not as a grandparent, but as a parent. We read: “Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the LORD your God disciplines you.”

Notice that it doesn’t say “as a grandfather disciplines his grandson.” No – God treats us like His children. That means that He loves us endlessly, but like any good parent, He also will discipline us when necessary.

As any parent knows, love means not only giving, but taking away. Our job isn’t to make sure that our kids have a good time; it’s to teach them right from wrong so that in the long run, they can have a good life. The same is true of God. He is our father and He wants the best for us. That’s why He sometimes uses what we call “tough love.”

In every healthy family, one of the parents needs to be the disciplinarian. It doesn’t matter whether it’s the father or the mother. What’s important is that we learn from God and embrace this most important task for the benefit of the next generation — even it makes us uncomfortable at times.

Your Turn:

Remember that God loves us like a parent and disciplines like a parent – only as a last resort and always out of love. Let’s embrace this same trait as we influence the next generation in this most important task.