Do you have a spiritual mother or father? Someone who introduced you to the gospel? If so, that person might feel they have more liberty or authority to challenge and direct you. That was Paul’s claim at the end of 1 Corinthians 4. He wrote (verse 15) that the believers there might end up with ten thousand guardians, or guides, in Christ, but they would only have one father because “in Christ Jesus, I became your father through the gospel.” In that role, Paul feels he has the authority or the responsibility to help the Corinthians know the truth and live it out. So, as their spiritual father, he asks them (verse 21) “What do you prefer? Shall I come to you with a rod of discipline, or shall I come in love and with a gentle spirit?”

Most of us would choose the love and gentleness option, but there are times when we need the rod of discipline too. Working in student ministry, I see the need for discipline regularly. Sometimes volunteer leaders are hesitant to correct or discipline students. Those leaders end up getting walked on by students who push to see how much they can get away with. These leaders end up frustrated by the student’s behavior, and the lack of discipline doesn’t help the students. Interestingly, leaders hesitate to discipline because they don’t want to hurt their relationship with the students, but the lack of discipline is exactly what hurts the relationship. When the leaders discipline their students it helps the relationship (well, it helps the relationship when the student can tell that the leader cares and is disciplining from love versus irritation – and students can always tell.)

Believers are encouraged to “Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. for what children are not disciplined by their father?” – Hebrews 12:7. Discipline is a part of love. It is what real life and spiritual mothers and fathers do to care for and bring up their children. Please consider if you have given someone this position of influence in your life and if there are people you are being a spiritual mom or dad for.

Pastor John Riley
Jr. High Pastor

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