To teach my dog to block cattle, hunt steers out of lantana or to stay and block in a strategic spot, there’s no fooling around. I’m firm and clear in my expectations and we work at it until the penny drops for her. We’re all business, serious business. As a result, she learns what her responsibility is. In the down times when we goof off and mess around, like any dog she loves to play, chase balls and run around like a nut. When we’re playing and having fun, she feels loved. (She actually smiles!)
The principle is the same for children. If you are only ever tender with them, they will feel secure, knowing that no matter what, you love them. Trouble is, they won’t grow in taking responsibility. If you are tough as nails, they may learn to be responsible, but they won’t necessarily feel loved. Kind love produces security. Tough love produces responsibility. Children need both, so a loving parent gives both as required.
Our Heavenly Father is tough and tender with us. His toughness is a sign of His love, just as surely as His tenderness is and we are invited to ponder both:“Consider the kindness and sternness of God.” Romans 11:22 God is tender with us, so that we will know for sure He loves us, and He is firm with us, so that we will grow in responsibility and maturity.
Father, I am blessed by Your kindness and sternness in my life,
which will result in the growth that You desire for me. Thank You.