I remember vividly the first night we moved our first child, Taylor, from a crib to a big girl bed. We bought the bed. I put it together. We showed it to Taylor and were so excited…definitely the first-time parent thing!

We explained to Taylor that she was becoming a big girl now…and big girls slept in big girl beds. But there was only one rule to big girl beds. Once we tucked you in and kissed you goodnight, you could not get out of the bed…

We actually believed that would work!

So we tucked Taylor into her big girl bed…kissed her goodnight…turned out the light…and went downstairs.

30 seconds later we heard the pitter-patter of tiny feet coming down the steps…30 seconds…that’s all it took. So much for our big girl bed rule.

So we took Taylor back upstairs…disciplined her again…kissed her goodnight again…tucked her in again…turned out the light again…and went downstairs again…

30 seconds later we heard the pitter-patter of tiny feet coming down the steps…again…

(Did I mention Taylor is a redhead like her mom! I was too…back when I had hair!)

So to cut to the end of the story…17 times she came downstairs…17 times we repeated the discipline, kiss goodnight, tuck in bed, turn out the light process…17 times.

So much for our big girl bed rule!

I was determined…Taylor was determined…I think there wasn’t an 18th time because she just got too tired…

The incident reminds me of God’s unconditional love and God’s discipline. Taylor disobeyed us 17 times in a row. Her disobedience was deliberate, planned, and willful. Yet in the midst of her disobedience two things were evident: 1) Our love for Taylor did not change. We loved her the same before she disobeyed…the same after the second time…and, yes, the same after the 17th time. And 2) we did not stop disciplining her.

These two truths are important for our spiritual growth.

  1. God loves you unconditionally. Romans 8:38-39 says, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

So as a follower of Jesus, even when you disobey God 17 times in a row, His love for you does not change.

Yet there is a second truth which is important.

  1. Because God loves you unconditionally, He will continue to discipline you. Proverbs 3:11 says, “My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.”

On the one hand, it is important you take your spiritual growth seriously as a response to God’s great love for you.

On the other hand, it is important you take your spiritual growth seriously because the more you grow spiritually, the more obedient you will become, which means the less discipline you will experience from the Lord.

What can you do today to take your spiritual growth more seriously?