Eventually we all must navigate how to discipline those who are under our authority when they need a change in behavior. What I know is that I naturally gravitate toward the easy way of doing that.
If you want to change someone’s behavior very quickly, instill fear in them. Threaten to give them something or take something away that will create discomfort. Make them afraid enough to change what they are doing, and they will change right away.
It is natural to see God that way. Many people see him as an angry God who threatens us with punishment unless we change our behavior. While it is true that God lays out the consequences of sin, his goal is not to change our behavior.
God’s goal is to give us a new heart that is aligned with him. His goal from the very beginning of this creation was that mankind would reflect his love to him and to one another. And through Jesus, he has restored that kind of heart for us.
“For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions” (Titus 2:11,12).
It was God’s grace that changed who we are. And it is his grace that compels us to choose a path through life that reflects love back to him. God does not conform our behavior through fear. He transforms us through grace.