Pruning • Discipline
Jeff England | Counseling Pastor
“God does not discipline us to subdue us, but to condition us for a life of usefulness and blessedness.” Billy Graham
We have all watched the scene play out. Maybe in a restaurant, maybe a store, maybe at someone’s home or in your own house, when that child goes wild. That out of control, seemingly spoiled rotten, ill-tempered “brat” unwinds! How quick we are to rush to judgments saying or thinking, “They better get that one under control,” “You know what would happen to that one if he was mine,” or “Someone better start learning how to parent.” It is true that undisciplined children learn quickly how to get what they want and may go to crazy extremes to convince their authorities to say “OK.” I have counseled long enough to know, however, that even the most skilled parents have children that test the limits and act out. I love the quiet confidence of that mom or dad who knows exactly what to do when their little one hits the floor in the middle of a store in a calculated rage. They leave the cart, take the swift removal of the child, and have some “fellowship” back in the car or at home. That child will learn to behave appropriately. Not only do they learn to respect authority and rules but they grow more secure, confident, and the seeds for understanding God’s plan of discipline are sown.
“My son, do not despise the LORD’S discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the LORD reproves him who he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.” Proverbs 3:11-12
As a parent, we know that it is sometimes so much easier to give in to the demands of that child whose fury is building. I cannot tell you how many times I have helped a parent develop a plan for disciplining their child and then that parent has ended up telling me that the plan was too hard or the plan seemed to punish them as the parent. Discipline takes time, energy, patience, perseverance, and yes, sacrifice! But discipline is truly an act of love. Proverbs 13:24 makes it clear, “Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.” No one likes to be disciplined, but I find great comfort in the fact that as a child of God, He loves me enough to patiently correct me when I stray. From His example, we are taught how to care for our children.
Proverbs 6:23 gives more insight into why correcting our children is so very important. “For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light, and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life.” Have you ever watched a sunrise from the shores of the Atlantic Ocean or the heights of a mountain? Beyond the beauty of those moments is the promise of another day filled with light that allows us to more easily navigate our way through the snares and pitfalls of the world. Godly discipline illuminates our children’s lives in a similar manner. When a young person has been taught biblical right from wrong, it is as if you have given your child an endless supply of lamps. Each time they are confronted by the darkness of worldly desires, they need only refer back to one of your lessons – or turn on a lamp. When we have sown the Word of God in our hearts and passed it along to our children, the light of God’s way can help them avoid many struggles. Finally, when our children choose God over the world in their daily lives, no sunrise will ever match the beauty of their growth!
I hope patient, loving correction with a desire to keep your children from going astray is your method and goal. Proverbs 19:18 says, “Discipline your son, for there is hope; do not set your heart on putting him to death.” I am not only thankful that God corrects his children, but I am thankful that he disciplines with love and control. The parent that lashes out in fits of rage when upset with their child often makes choices that do not teach or demonstrate love but may build a wall of resentment between parent and child that can destroy trust and create long term separation. In Proverbs 29:17, Solomon reminds us of the importance and benefits of godly discipline with our children, “Discipline your son, and he will give you rest; he will give delight to your heart.”
My wife and I have been privileged to teach four and five-year-olds during the gathering for the past 14 years. I have not only been delighted by my daughters when they have made great choices, but I feel that same sense of joy when I witness our students demonstrate random acts of kindness, patience, and obedience. The sense of peace we feel as parents when our children consistently make good choices is wonderful.
A final word from Proverbs on the importance of correcting our children is found in Chapter 5 verse 23, “He dies for lack of discipline, and because of his great folly he is led astray.”
I hope you have an incredible day as you ponder the nature of godly discipline. You can do this. Set the godly example of a disciplined life then teach your children to follow it.