“This Hurts Me More Than It Hurts You”
These are the words some of our parents spoke right before they disciplined us for disobeying them. I remember, once, I challenged the logic and told my parents they were wrong.
When I became a parent, I understood. Few parents enjoy disciplining their children, but the ultimate goal is to associate their actions with a lesser pain now so they will be inclined to avoid a greater pain later.
The reason it hurts us to discipline our children is because we are inherently wired to protect them from harm. Not only do we not like to see them suffer, but we don’t like the rejection that comes with judging their behavior. We want their lives to be easy and we want them to like us. Discipline usually involves neither of these, therefore, it hurts us when it has to be given.
It doesn’t get any easier as we move through the seasons of life.
I think often of the Old Testament prophets. We often perceive them as mean, crusty gun-slingers who rode into town, blasted some sinners, and rode into the sunset as they looked back to see God rain down fire and brimstone on their unrepentant audience.
This is an inaccurate and unfortunate stereotype.
God’s prophets gave up everything to deliver His message of warning and grace to those who needed to hear it. They slept without a bed to rest on or a roof over their heads. They were hunted down, mocked and ridiculed. And when they told the truth they became the bad guys. The shunned.
All because they were willing to share what God gave them with those who needed to hear. To lead people who were disobeying God into a time of repentance so they would know His blessings.
Did they love their audience?
You bet, they did. In fact, in some cases they were speaking to people they had known all of their lives. Friends and family. Neighbors.
They loved enough to allow the people who needed to hear the truth abuse them, and sometimes kill them. This is the sad reality Jesus referenced in His parable of “The Workers in the Vineyard.” Jesus placed Himself in the parable as the One who was ultimately killed by those who refused to listen and honor the owner (God) of the vineyard (Mark 12:1-11).
I know it is hard to understand the logic of God when we are being disobedient. It is easier to dismiss and perhaps lash out at those who care enough to tell us the truth.
But rest assured, just because we don’t feel loved doesn’t mean we aren’t being loved. And just because someone tells us they love us doesn’t mean they are really thinking about our best interests.
I still appreciate people in my life who are willing to hurt more than they are hurting me.
I didn’t say I like them at the moment they are telling me the truth.
But in my better moments I know they love me with a love that is willing to sacrifice everything to protect me from harm.