Don’t Delay

Ecclesiastes 8:11
“Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.”

One of the training techniques used in training dogs is called marker training. The key to this training technique is to reward or punish the dog at the moment that they do good or bad so that they can mark in their minds what they did so they will know whether or not they should do that action again. If the trainer delays in marking the action, that action, whether good or bad, will not be remembered by the dog; thus, the dog continues its bad habits.

The verse above says, “Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.” God is teaching the importance of not delaying punishment when wrong has been discovered. Just like the dog needs to be marked when they do good or bad so that they don’t continue in their bad habits; likewise, people need to be punished speedily when the infraction occurs so that the bad habits don’t continue. Several principles from this verse can help every leader, and especially parents, to be sure that the punishment administered does the work it needs to do.

First, engagement is the key to speedily executing punishment. The key to punishing speedily is for the parent or leader to be engaged with the child or follower. One of the reasons many are never punished for what they do is because the leaders are not involved in the lives of the followers. You cannot lead from a distance and correct the speedily wrong when it occurs. If you want your instruction and punishment to do their desired work, you need to be engaged with the individual so that you will know when to mark their good or bad actions.

Second, delayed punishment is an approval of the wrong action. There is a mentality that wrong will correct itself. Wrong actions never correct themselves, but they only get worse until a correction is made by the leader. Just because you don’t enjoy administering punishment when a wrong occurs doesn’t mean you should delay the punishment in hopes that the wrong will correct itself. When a person does wrong and you don’t do anything about it, they will think that you approve of their actions and they will do it again.

Third, delayed punishment produces frustrated and bitter results. One mistake many people make is that they wait to punish only to make the punishment ineffective because the infraction has been forgotten by the individual who did it. If you wait until you are frustrated to punish, your punishment will seem as a lashing out to the one who did wrong because you are mad. You will always find that administering swift punishment is never convenient, but you must stop what you are doing to make the correction if you want the discipline to mark the wrong actions so that they don’t occur again. Always remember that bitter people are a result of punishment that was often administered after the fact instead of when it occurred.

Fourth, immediate punishment makes the discipline clear and brings the desired impact on the heart and mind. The purpose of punishing immediately is to make a mark on the mind not to do the action again; this is why you must punish at the moment the wrong occurs. Always remember that proper punishment done speedily results in corrected behavior.