The mother of an eight-year old girl watches through her kitchen window as the neighborhood children gather and play in her back yard. She protects them all from harm, enjoys their fun and games and gives all of them an equal amount of cookies and lemonade.
If a neighbor child does something dangerous he or she is immediately sent home with a severe scolding. Her child must be protected at all times. She may call all the others to gather around her and be reminded of the rules of play. Even her own is expected to play safely and carefully.
But when it is suppertime and they all go home she begins to shower her special love on her child. She provides hugs and kisses boo-boos. She sets a place at the table. She listens to the childhood questions, ambitions and explanations. She offers examples of how future play sessions can be safer and more enjoyable. She makes sure the youngster gets a warm, clean bath and a few extra strokes with the hairbrush. She sits beside the girl’s bed and finishes the story that was interrupted by sleep last night.
She is only slightly concerned with the level of care the other kids are receiving. They are not really her primary concern. This child is hers and the little girl gets her full attention.
In much the same way God deals with His children. He loves all people, all over the world, all the time. But He has special concern and promises special attention to those who are His very own family, His adopted children. This attention is shown by the peace, joy, protection and intimacy available only to them.
Does He discipline them? Sure. But His discipline is meant to correct more than punish and guide more than injure.