Love Is Discipline


"Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline…” (Revelation 3:19 NIV)

Love is kisses on the forehead. Love is going out for ice cream after dinner. Love is a dozen roses for a special day from a special somebody. Love is a warm embrace from a loving mother. But what if there’s more to love than that? This text teaches us that in addition to those beautiful things, there is more to love than warm fuzzies and tender kisses. 

The apostle John shares a unique aspect of love, one that helps reveal the complexity of love. In this verse, God says that He rebukes and corrects the ones He loves (and that’s all of us!). Here we see a crazy element of love. It isn't roses or chocolate covered strawberries at our doorstep. We are missing the pats on the head or hugs, signifying how proud our Heavenly Father is of us. In fact, we are limited in any form of affection, physical contact, or gifts to unwrap after a hard, arduous task. Love is not just the hug or gentle pat on the forehead… notice, we see love in a completely new way. We see what some would call the antithesis of love… discipline. 

Jesus says He loves through correction. Yikes! What’s even stranger about this text is that Jesus was speaking to a church that thought it had it all together and needed nothing. They had all their needs met, their resources provided for, and had no reason to connect with God or be rebuked by anyone. But when Jesus told them the truth about themselves, He said, “And oh, by the way, you are walking around naked!” The self-sufficient church didn’t have anyone to tell them that they were exposed all this time and didn't know it. 

His love sees our flaws and fixes them for us. Isn't that like a good God? He not only showers us with gifts and takes excellent care of His children, but He also loves us enough to correct us. To not allow us to go through life, unaware of our real condition. Knowing this is helpful because we don't have to fear when God allows life to chastise us or when He allows things that cause us to change our idea of His love. He does what He does in love.  

“Blessed is the one whom God corrects; so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.” (Job 5:17 NIV)

Thought Questions

  1. Why does discipline seem so harsh at times?
  2. How have you seen this principle of love through discipline manifest in your life?