A Rod or Love

 •  3 min. read  •  grade level: 7
Recently a young mother approached me with the question of how she was to raise her children during the dispensation of grace. The obvious difficulty she faced was how to show grace to her family and at the same time carry out discipline or godly order in the home. This issue has perplexed parents for many years. The answer comes in tracing how God combines His grace with His government. The one does not interfere with the other; they run parallel to each other.
We will refer to an example the Apostle Paul gave in 1 Corinthians 4. The Corinthians had been acting in fleshly ways and needed correction. Rather than humbling themselves, they were puffed up about the matter. “Now some are puffed up, as though I would not come to you” (vs. 18). It seems they thought they could get away with their carnality without any correction. But Paul reminds them that he would not let this go. He would come to them and “know, not the speech of them which are puffed up, but the power” (vs. 19). He would take them to task about their behavior.
The Kingdom of God
He then continues with the words, “The kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.” God has given power to carry out the administration of the principles of His kingdom. Paul was assured that when it was necessary to exercise discipline or some kind of governmental rule, he had authority or power to do it. God was behind him and would support the action deemed necessary. Such an action was not to destroy God’s grace but rather to enforce it. If the Corinthians would abuse grace, Paul reminded them that he would not allow them. He would come to them with a rod. The rod would be used in a governmental way to make them realize they could not get away with such practice. The rod that Paul would use was to keep them from falling under an even more severe discipline from the Lord if they continued in their ways (1 Cor. 5:55To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. (1 Corinthians 5:5); 1 Cor. 11:31-3231For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. 32But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world. (1 Corinthians 11:31‑32)).
The Reason for the Rod
So the Apostle lays the options before them of how they wanted him to come to them: “What will ye? shall I come unto you with a rod, or in love, and in the spirit of meekness?” (vs. 21). This verse brings out the reason for government. There is no question concerning his motive of love and grace. It is evident that Paul wanted to show love and grace, but he would not shirk from dealing harshly with them in a governmental way if they refused to repent. Grace was paramount with him, and the governmental discipline was his “plan B” means to bring them to self-judgment. Otherwise grace could not freely flow to them. In such a case he would have to go to them with a rod.
May the Lord help us to understand the interplay that grace and government have with each other so as to carry them out in our homes and assemblies. Were it not for God’s governmental ways with us, who of us would have come to lay hold of His grace? Does not the real appreciation of His grace make us thankful that He has dealt with us in governmental ways! “It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn Thy statutes” (Psa. 119:7171It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes. (Psalm 119:71)). “I know, O Lord, that Thy judgments are right, and that Thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me” (Psa. 119:7575I know, O Lord, that thy judgments are right, and that thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me. (Psalm 119:75)). “It is a good thing that the heart be established with grace” (Heb. 13:99Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein. (Hebrews 13:9)).
D. C. Buchanan