Thursday, March 14, 2013

Proverbs 13:24 Bring on the discipline!

Today’s verse has caused lots of controversy over the past 30 years for some reason:

Whoever spares the rod hates his son,

    but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him. (Proverbs 13:24 ESV)

The ESV includes a note that an alternate translation for the last part would be, “he who loves him disciplines him early.” You can’t wait until they are already out of control. The absolute hardest part of being a parent, but the essential one, is disciplining your children - making disciples of them in a consistent way that shapes, not breaks, their spirits.

God did not call us to be buddies with our kids! He entrusts them to us to help guide them to an authentic relationship with Christ. This means you need a PLAN! You cannot parent haphazardly, reacting as things come up. You must intentionally have a game plan: know where you are going and keep that route in focus before you at all times.

The LORD commanded the Israelites to be diligent in discipling their children:

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. (Deuteronomy 6:6-7)

Note that this does not say, “Drop them at Sunday School and hope they’ll catch the faith.” Nor does it say, “Hire a Christian nanny or send them to Christian schools and pray they’ll learn about God.” The Word tells us very specifically that we will need to do the job ourselves. And it’s something that we should be doing naturally throughout the day. God should be our main topic of discussion: recounting His attributes, modeling how to pray and how to worship, seeing His glory in nature, experiencing His presence in trials, extending His grace and forgiveness throughout the day.

And sometimes discipling requires actual discipline! And early! One thing I’ve noticed over the years is that when parents refuse to set boundaries for their children early on, there will usually come a point when the child has done something so blatantly disrespectful or embarrassing in public, that then the parent just blows up! If you set boundaries for children early and consistently discipline (I’m not saying “hit” ), everyone is happier! This doesn’t mean that your child is not going to test the boundaries. They will! But if there is a consistent, appropriate consequence each time the lines are crossed, they WILL learn that Mom and Dad don’t budge. There’s security in that!

Now, going back to that idea of using the rod... Do you remember when we were little and got into trouble, our parents would smack us on the butt first and ask questions later? And that would usually be followed by another smack! Somehow we survived, and we learned that there were behaviors that were appropriate and others that weren’t. This helped us make friends and keep jobs! We learned that you needed to be respectful and polite, that you did not interrupt, that you NEVER jumped on the couch or left trash on the ground, and that marriage vows were to be honored! And many of us learned that God was to be revered and loved above all else. Now that’s discipline!  

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