Week 1: Seeking God: The Creator of Relationship
DAY 3: Punishment-free Relationships
Many of us were raised in a family where we were punished for doing wrong. We were spanked, grounded, yelled at, lectured to, etc. None of these methodologies are necessarily wrong. However, the problem comes in with the “delivery” of these methods. In some cases, if not most, they were called punishments and included some words or behaviors that led us to believe we deserved what we got. Some of us also saw our parents punish each other for doing wrong. We observed them yelling at each other, criticizing, pushing or hitting. Or we observed the opposite such as “the silent treatment”, withholding of affection, or other forms of withdrawal. The problem with all of this is that it does not paint an accurate picture of what God does when we do things that are wrong. The Bible says that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Rom. 5:8). In Isaiah 54:9, we see a prophetic word about the Redeemer, whom we all now know is Jesus. “To me this is like the days of Noah, when I swore that the waters of Noah would never again cover the earth. So now I have sworn not to be angry with you, never to rebuke you again.” This is telling us since Jesus Redeemed us on the cross, He is no longer mad at us! Once we accept Jesus, our mistakes are more about learning. He is not mad at us. He just wants us to learn so that we have the best life possible. And He is patient as we learn – love is patient and keeps no records of wrongs! (1 Cor. 13) So in turn, we need to show this same mercy and patience in our human relationships. He does not control us with anger, therefore, we should not try to control others in our anger. Instead, we get before the Lord, confess what we are angry about, lay it down, forgive, and ask Him how to proceed in our relationships showing the same loving-kindness he showed us.
Many are still under the impression that God wants to punish them for the wrong that they do for two reasons. They do not understand that there is a difference between how God operated in the Old Covenant and how He operates in the New Covenant. And secondly, because of this lack of understanding, Christian Churches are teaching doctrine from this lack of understanding misleading many believers which has only perpetuated this faulty thinking for two thousand years! In the Old Covenant, God laid down the law and stipulated very specific penalties for breaking that law. God did this expressly to communicate His standard as well as to communicate how impossible it is for us to meet this standard, humanly speaking. In James 2:10, He is clear that if we stumble at just one point in the law, we are guilty of breaking all of it! Sounds hopeless until you realize that this is the reason He made a New Covenant with us! Thank God! The New Covenant is God’s provision for us to be able to meet that perfect standard He has. The ONLY way to do so is to accept the death and resurrection of His perfect Son, Jesus. Jesus was fully man and fully God and is the only One acceptable to make such a sacrifice on our behalf. When we decide to die to ourselves, accept His sacrifice, and live in His Resurrection power, we are no longer bound to the law. This means past, present, and future sin is paid for and we no longer need punished for it. He was punished for us! How amazing is that!
This is GOOD NEWS for us! But it is also good news for every person with whom we are in relationship! Jesus told us “As I have loved you, so now you must love one another.” (John 13:34). What would our relationships look like if we no longer held our spouses, children, friends, and coworkers perfectly to our standards? What if we only communicated to them what we want in relationship with them based on what is best for each one AND gave them room to grow in these things? Of course, God still has His standard of perfection, but we now have room to grow into these standards because Jesus fulfilled the justice component of the law. Now in New Covenant, we walk with Him and in Him, depending on Him to strengthen and guide us to manifest this standard in our lives. He is patient with us in the process so we can be patient with ourselves and others while we, too, are on our journeys. Turn away from impatient perfectionism and embrace grace, patience, and loving assistance for yourself and those around you!
Make a list of all the controlling and punishing behaviors you display in your relationships. Confess them to the Lord and to another trusted believer. Turn from any form of punishing others or self-punishment since this is not operating in the likeness of the God who created and redeemed you. Look at 1 Corinthians 13 and Romans 12:9-21. Make a list of all that He is for you and remember that you are made to be like Him! Remember that He lives in you so you have easy access to all that He is! While it may be impossible for you, on your own, to live these Scriptures out, it is not impossible for you to live them out as He flows through you and enables that kind of love! All things are possible through Him! (Phil. 4:13)
Declare over yourself, “My love is real. I am patient. I am kind. I do not dishonor others even when I am upset and people are not honoring me. I am not easily angered and I keep no records of wrongs. I keep in mind the long-term good of myself and those I am in relationship with. This is not brought about by punishing them or myself, but by submitting to the Spirit of Jesus and allowing him to guide us to the greater good. I am perfect in Christ! I no longer have to strive or worry about God’s punishment when I fail. Failing and mistakes are only about learning and being refined. In turn, those I care about don’t have to worry about me punishing them. I extend the same grace and love to which Jesus extended me!”
Author of this post: Melanie Connell