Saturday, October 20, 2012

A Child's Need for Discipline

The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul;
The testimony of the
Lord is sure, making wise the simple;
The statutes of the
Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;
The commandment of the
Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;
The fear of the
Lord is clean, enduring forever;
The judgments of the
Lord are true and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold,
Yea, than much fine gold;
Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
Moreover by them Your servant is warned,
And in keeping them there is great reward.”
Psalm 19: 7-11

The other day, my oldest son said something that I never though I would hear come out of his mouth. Now, before I tell you what he said, I have to put into context his statement so you can see where he was coming from when he declared what he did. Here is the context. My kids of late have had the opportunity to witness some other children who are parented much differently than how they have been parented. And, in watching these other children they have realized with their own eyes the things I have told them for years – the need to develop godly discipline and that is what their father and I put first above their desires to live in line with their own sinful tendencies.

So, here is what my 15 year-old stated: “Those children would do much better if they were disciplined properly.” I have to agree. Parenting on grace alone (as these other children are) may seem like the most loving way to raise a child, but it is not. In fact, God Himself does not leave each of us to live under His grace alone, but also to deal with the natural consequences of our sins and His gentle but loving reprimand when we go astray. Here are some verses to read through which confirm what I just stated:

If his sons forsake My law
And do not walk in My judgments,
If they break My statutes
And do not keep My commandments,
hen I will punish their transgression with the rod,
And their iniquity with stripes.
Nevertheless My lovingkindness I will not utterly take from him,
Nor allow My faithfulness to fail.
My covenant I will not break,
Nor alter the word that has gone out of My lips.”
Psalm 89:30-34

My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord,
Nor detest His correction;
For whom the
Lord loves He corrects,
Just as a father the son in whom he delights.”
Proverbs 3:11-12

He who spares his rod hates his son,
But he who loves him disciplines him promptly.”
Proverbs 13:24

Chasten your son while there is hope,
And do not set your heart on his destruction.”
Proverbs 19:18

Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child;
The rod of correction will drive it far from him.”
Proverb 22:15

Do not withhold correction from a child,
For if you beat him with a rod, he will not die.
You shall beat him with a rod,
And deliver his soul from hell.”
Proverbs 23:13-14

The rod and rebuke give wisdom,
But a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.”
Proverb 29:15

Now, before I go any further, I will make a note for those of you who may take the word “rod” out of context and think that it refers to a stick used to strike a child. The word “rod” used in many of the verses above means a tool for measurement, as if you were to place yourself or your child's behavior against it and then be able to see more clearly the discrepancy between it and the perfect law of the Lord. So, in “beat” ing your child with a rod, as Proverbs 23 states, it is really referring to the practice of placing your child before that measurement of God's law again and again and again in a way that helps the child understand his/her lack without the Lord. This type of parenting will not destroy the child as the proverb goes onto say, but rather it will deliver that child's soul from straying away from the Lord and following a path that will lead to his/her destruction.

My husband and I believe in the grace of God and the need to extend grace to our children, but in the same breath I must also state that we see a definite need for us to instruct our children in the truth of the Lord, His commands, and His loving discipline. When our children were younger, I felt that discipline was all I did all day long. We had a set protocol as to how disobedient behavior was dealt with: The child had to sit in a quite place until they resolved that their heart was ready to listen to instruction, the were then talked to about the discrepancy in their behavior (of course if they were unwilling to listen they went back to sitting and being quiet), then they were required to ask forgiveness from the Lord and the person they dishonored with their actions and/or words, and then finally to restore the relationship they had compromised they needed to perform an act of service for the person(s) their actions hurt. This cycle became familiar with my children, but never did it become easy like saying “I'm sorry.” or even, “Please forgive me.” It was a consistent way to bring out children before the measuring rod of the Lord and bring restoration to any compromised relationship within our family.

In observing this other family, my children have been disturbed by the way these other children have chosen to behave, mostly as a result of their heart attitudes which come forth when boundaries have been given to them. To our children, rules to control their natural impulses are now looked upon as parameters of love which we their parents have taken the time to instill in their hearts, not a form of punishment that destroys who they are and their gifted nature. Actually, it has been proven that children who learn to live within healthy boundaries do better in life because they do not see the need to always test the limits given them by God or society, but instead they appreciate these limits and direct all their energies within them to live to their greatest potential – something I truly want for my children.

I am glad that after all those difficult years of training, that I can say without a doubt my children feel the same towards God's law and the rules we have set before them as a result of His laws in equivalent manner as the writer of Romans:

For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man.” Romans 7:22

And in the hard work we put into our children on the front end, we have found that the teenage years for our older two have brought about great delight to my and my husband's souls. (Our daughter too although she seemed to just follow the older two.)

Correct your son, and he will give you rest;
Yes, he will give delight to your soul.”
Proverbs 29:17

As I tell groups when I have spoken about rearing children with godly discipline, do not fret if you feel that you have been off track in your disciplining efforts – it is never too late to get back on track. Yes, the further you are down the road will make the transition all the more difficult, but that is the same for anything we find ourselves out of line with in our pursuit of godly character. Just start by praying and asking God to lead you one step at a time closer to His plan and He will direct your steps and reward your obedience.

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