Listen | Understand | Love | Discipline
God disciplines His children. More specifically, He disciplines those He loves. He compares His discipline with that of a father disciplining the son in whom he delights. So God expects that parents who love their children will discipline them.
Let’s not focus on how God punishes His children, rather why? God rebukes those He loves to guide them to a life of righteousness so they can receive eternal reward rather than eternal punishment. Discipline leads to repentance, which leads to eternal life! God disciplines those He loves so that they may inherit His Kingdom and be a part of the family of God.
In Psalm 32, David talks about the heavy hand of God, His discipline. But once he admitted his transgression and confessed his sin, God forgave him. God disciplines us to change us. He wants to guide us into holy lives that are pleasing and acceptable to Him.
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:1-2 NKJV).
Isn’t that what we want for our children? We want them to learn right from wrong and how to make good choices so that they can live the most rewarding life! It’s true, even physically, that living a disciplined life generally leads to a more fulfilled life. Learning self-control and obedience ultimately leads to healthier, more rewarding long-term circumstances.
Some parents just want to be a friend. They’re afraid if they say no or uphold boundaries their children will resent them. The fact is, they’ll resent you for withholding discipline. In Psalm 23:4 David says, “Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” Discipline (rod) and guidance (staff) from parents lead to confidence and assurance in children.
Aren’t you grateful for the times God has intervened in your life with rebuke or correction? Just like the scripture says, “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:11 NIV). Trust me, your children will look back and be thankful as well.
So be firm in your discipline and forgive their actions. Set clear guidelines and boundaries that your children can succeed in following. Let them know your expectations up front and deliver consequences when they’re broken. But always let them know you forgive them and won’t hold over their heads the wrong they’ve done.
Don’t make rules you’re not ready to enforce. It’s your job as a parent to be in their business, be prepared for what you may find. Proverbs 22:15 says, “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; The rod of correction will drive it far from him.” You can count on them to make some choices you’re not happy with, but discipline will guide them in the right direction and produce in them a fruitful life!
God is also just in His discipline. Revelation 16:7 says, “Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are Your judgments.” Don’t discipline in haste and out of anger. Remember the other lessons we’ve talked about. Be patient and understanding, slow to anger and clear that your discipline comes from a place of love.
Put the four principles we’ve talked about in practice with your family. They’re not mutually exclusive, but quite dependent on each other. You must listen, to understand. If you love, you will discipline. One way or the other, they’re all connected, and each play an important role in parenting from God’s perspective.
This post first appeared on jentezenfranklin.org July 16, 2016.