Moses, a man God praised for his humility, and to whom God gave incredible responsibility and privileges, once disobeyed God in a moment of frustration with His people. The consequence of his sin was that he was not allowed to enter the promised land that he had been leading the Israelite nation to. Moses never argued with the Lord about that. He accepted the punishment. But in God’s mercy, Moses was allowed to supernaturally see the promised land before he died. (Deuteronomy 34:1-4)
This is an example of God’s mercy and discipline in action, and it’s a good role model for us as we raise our children. The Lord held firm on what He had told Moses would be the consequence of his sin, but God also demonstrated forgiveness and mercy by allowing Moses to see the land.
As parents, we must beware of making idle threats. It’s important to carefully and prayerfully decide how we’re going to discipline our child and then make sure we follow through on what we say. If we aren’t prepared to follow through, we shouldn’t say it!
Let’s say, for example, we were planning to go someplace fun with our family and friends, and our child misbehaved. We would not want to tell our child that if they didn’t cooperate they would not be going–unless we were truly prepared to cancel the event. Idle threats only teach a child that we don’t mean what we say, so there’s little motivation for them to obey us.
When I was upset with our children, I would tell them to wait in their room while I calmed down and prayed about how to handle the situation. (This is with children old enough to be trusted alone in a room.) And I suspect that as I was seeking the Lord’s guidance, they were talking to Him, too–probably asking Him to be merciful! Once I was calm, God could show me how to handle the situation.
Because we’re human, there will be times when we speak in anger, and if we regret what we said, we need to humbly confess to our children that we made a mistake and start fresh. But their misbehavior still needs to be dealt with.
I’m so thankful to have a perfect heavenly Father for my role model and the help of His Holy Spirit in following His example!