Through the ages, Satan has distorted man's perception of God to such an extent that most people view God as a stern judge - always "watching with jealous eye to discern the errors and mistakes of men, that He may visit judgments upon them." [SC 11] My heart was immediately pricked with the thought that I probably come across the same way to the boys I homeschool - always watching to catch them in some misdemeanor so I can give them a mark. But if I am to be a representative of Christ, and reveal His love to the world, I must work to remove this misconception of God's character. How am I to do this, and yet maintain proper discipline and structure? The rest of the chapter explains how Jesus did that very thing.
"Love, mercy, and compassion were revealed in every act of His life." SC 11-12
"Jesus did not suppress one word of truth, but He always uttered it in love. He exercised the greatest tact and thoughtful, kind attention in His intercourse with the people. He was never rude, never needlessly spoke a severe word, never gave needless pain to a sensitive soul. He did not censure human weakness. ...tears were in His voice as He uttered His scathing rebukes." SC 12
I am also reminded of what EGW says in another place, "We are to put the best construction upon the words and motives of others." If the boys see that I expect only the best from them, at first they may try to take advantage of that, but I believe that in time, they will be prompted to put forth all their effort to measure up to that expectation and prove me right. At the same time, I must be careful not to "censure human weakness" - to be aware of their limitations and not demand things beyond what they are able.
This goes right along with what Alicia told me last night about Daniel - he doesn't respond well to punishments and negative consequences, but rather to positive reinforcement - rewards and encouragement. Of course there will always have to be consequences for our actions, but God's way, I believe, is the same - to shower us with love and encouragement, gently, lovingly nudging us forward towards the right, and expressing genuine sorrow when unpleasant consequences must be meted out.
I love this closing thought at the end of the chapter:
"The thought [of God's love]...brings the mind into captivity to the will of God." SC 15
It is only as my mind is in "captivity to the will of God" that I will be able to accurately portray His character to the world, and remove the misconceptions that Satan has planted. According to the above quotation, if I want to have the mind of Christ, to be always in harmony with Him, all I need to do is meditate on His love for me. This simple meditation has the power to captivate my heart and bring me into harmony with Christ. What a wonder!