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By Angela Gidley

Why did you hit Jack again?” I asked in astonishment.

“I don’t know, he just made me mad,” my daughter Isabella responded.

Grace is a frequent topic of conversation in our home, especially when my oldest daughter knows she is in trouble. She loves to remind me that “she needs another chance; she will do better next time.”

When the hitting incident happened a few weeks ago, she said, “Mom, you give me grace other times. Can you give me grace this time instead of a consequence?”

I recalled the story of Moses in Numbers 20:2-12. God had instructed Moses to speak to a rock so that water would flow out of it for the Israelites and their animals to drink. Moses returned to the people but instead of speaking to the rock as instructed, he hit the rock with his staff. Water gushed forth, “but the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, ‘Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them'” (Numbers 20:12, NIV).

With this story in mind, I responded, “Isabella, I love to give you grace, but the Bible tells us that even when we receive forgiveness, we still have consequences for our behavior.” I told her the story of Moses and the rock and said, “Moses simply disobeyed what God told him to do. Because of his disobedience, Moses did not get to lead God’s people into the Promised Land. That was a big consequence for his choice to not obey God.”

It was clear to me as I spoke to my seven-year-old that she needed to experience a consequence for her choice to hit her brother. Hebrews 12:11 (ESV) says, “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”

Like most children, my daughter is not fond of discipline. To be grounded from activities is torture for her. She doesn’t have the patience to wait a few hours when she is looking forward to an outing, and she begs to head to the Dollar Store to spend any amount of money that she earns or receives. She knows what patience is, but she has very little interest in possessing it.

That’s one of the reasons God gives children parents. As her mother I can see further than she can see, and I know the benefits of discipline far outweigh the momentary pain it causes both of us. I don’t enjoy disciplining my children. They have told me about a dozen times this week that I am “so mean.” I wonder if I am consistent enough, if I am kind enough, if I am stern enough. Then God so gently reminds me of His words in Galatians 6:9: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

The day after I discussed Moses and his consequence with Isabella, she came upstairs with a piece of paper in hand. She excitedly said, “Mom! I found the story in my Bible story book, and you were right.” She had written the story out word for word on her paper, and she read it to me. I silently thanked God for His grace in clearly reinforcing to my daughter the truth of His Word.

Keep going, Mom and Dad. Keep praying, keep trusting, keep speaking His truth into your children’s lives. I stand with you in asking God to give us a harvest of righteousness in His proper time.

About The Author

Angela Gidley

Angela Gidley, a licensed minister with Open Bible Churches, serves at Elevation Church in Cedar Falls, Iowa. She is a wife and mother of three, who loves to read, drink coffee, and spend time alone in silence (since all three of her children inherited her extra vocal cords). You can connect with her at facebook.com/agidley