“And the LORD said unto him, This is the land which I sware unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, saying, I will give it unto thy seed: I have caused thee to see it with thine eyes, but thou shalt not go over thither.”
It is hard to read the last chapter of Deuteronomy without wondering what was going through Moses’ mind as God showed him everything he could have had if he had obeyed God by speaking to the rock. Sadly, his life came down to this last moment when God showed him what could have been.
Though this last chapter in no way takes away what God did in his life, it is important for every Christian to understand that punishment and consequences are the result of disobedience. As much as we don’t like to administer punishment, it is important that it be administered correctly for the sake of those who are watching to see how serious we are about right and wrong. Several principles can be learned from the verse above that every person should be careful not to ignore.
First, punishment must be administered so others may learn. There are those who think that punishment is cruel, but a life without punishment is a life without love. Proverbs 3:12 says, “For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.” Though you may think it is unloving to administer correction and punishment, God declares that punishment is an act of love. The reason it is an act of love is because it shows the one being punished that there are consequences to every action, and it should keep them from doing a greater wrong that has greater consequences. Moreover, punishment teaches others what not to do. Proverbs 19:25 teaches, “Smite a scorner, and the simple will beware: and reprove one that hath understanding, and he will understand knowledge.” Everyone understands that you are serious about doing right when correction is given no matter who the person is who did the wrong.
Second, punishment must be administered justly and rightly for it to have its effect. God did not punish Moses out of anger, but He was very deliberate in his punishment. If you want punishment to have its desired effect, you must never punish out of reaction or anger, but you must punish deliberately out of love. Deliberate punishment administered in love always impacts the heart of the one being punished for good. You will always find out that punishment administered out of a heart of anger, rage or inconvenience often turns the punished into a bitter person. On the other hand, punishment administered with love tends to make the punished to love you more in the future.
Third, punishment should always show the consequences of what could have been. When God punished Moses, He showed him what he could have had if he had obeyed by speaking to the rock. When you are punishing someone, you would be wise to always show the consequences of what could have been had they obeyed. When people are shown the consequences of what could have been, it will cause them to be more careful the next time they are tempted with doing wrong.
If you love those you lead, you will administer punishment when a wrong occurs no matter how hard it may be. Remember that punishment administered in love helps the punished and those watching to do right in the future. It also reinforces the established rules, boundaries and limitations.