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
Anyone who has been part of my household—and there have been many through the years—knows that I have three expectations: mutual respect, peace (keep the noise down and be kind), and love. I tolerated Edward and Frances’ bad behavior until Edward began chasing me up the stairs and protesting (loudly) when I went to make a cup of tea—behaviors that were nonsensical (except to him) and really annoying. On the other hand, Frances loved everyone and was typically friendly—until we were out walking. Then she became almost unmanageable when she spied another of her own kind. Yes, Edward and Frances are my companion dogs.
It was time to call in Lara, the Dog Whisperer. Within a few minutes Lara pointed out Edward’s pouting and controlling behavior. Frances, the happy-go-lucky creature intent on a good time, also displayed passive-aggressive behavior designed to bypass authority. But they weren’t too much for Lara—she saw right through their manipulations and began showing me how to apply corrections at the first sign of disobedience. After months of training—me—I am learning how to enjoy the mutual respect, peace, and love I expect in our home.
I’ve reflected on the results of Lara’s work and how they so exceed what I’ve found with other trainers. Lara understands animal behavior, why dogs act as they do and how to motivate them to respond appropriately. She doesn’t use punishment to motivate, and she doesn’t hand out treats as bribes. She uses praise and approval. And she corrects when the behavior is not what it should be. I’m applying Lara’s lessons, and I’m seeing a huge change.
Just think about the difference between correction and punishment. God corrects us when we are disobedient. Even better than that, the omniscient Holy Spirit convicts us prior to our sinning, before the kernel of an unrighteous thought blooms into active sin. He convicts us to stop us before we sin. If we choose to override him, he corrects us with any number of brilliant methods to put us back on the path to obedience. I believe punishment is reserved for slow learners who continue to manifest bad/sinful behavior so that they, too, learn to obey.
The whole point of God’s training us is to develop that relationship with him that causes us to choose to obey for the joy of fellowship with him and to experience his approval.
“…in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11).
Father, thank you for all the ways in which you teach us and demonstrate your truths, and thank you for revealing to us the deep joy that comes through obedience. AMEN.