What’s the Difference Between Discipline and Punishment?
“Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?” Hebrews 12:7
We often recoil against the idea of being disciplined because we associate it with punishment. The Bible makes a clear distinction. The Greek word paideuo in the Bible means “to discipline” and is used in the context of a parent guiding, training, or correcting a child or the instruction of a student. Paio, also Greek, means “to strike or wound” as when Jesus was whipped by Roman soldiers.
God does not punish us, He disciplines us. Discipline focuses not on the punishment of wrongs, but on guiding the way forward. Punishment is fueled by anger, while discipline is an act of love. God does not deal with our sin in anger but fosters our growth through immense grace.
Jesus was beaten and killed – He bore punishment meant for us and our children. We should not punish children because it is not our responsibility to repay them for their sins. God already paid with His blood. Parents should instead discipline their children, providing appropriate consequences as guidance. Discipline produces self-regulation, self-respect and security, all crucial life skills.
Proper discipline begins with our realization of what God has done for us and our children. Share that with your children. Punishing parenting is a bad habit and it is not Biblical. There is no shame in seeking counsel or training to unlearn punishing parenting.
Resource reading: Hebrews 12:1-15