August 11

“My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding; he stores up sound wisdom for the upright; he is a shield to those who walk in integrity, guarding the paths of justice and watching over the way of his saints.’ (Proverbs 2:1-8)

One of the biggest challenges in the life of a family is the training and discipline of children. Right now parents all over the world are reading books, online articles, posts, tweets, magazine articles, and blogs to find some method or approach to keep their children “in line.” But the Bible offers the best wisdom for raising godly children. Punishment is not the same as biblical discipline. Punishment, in the most general sense, is what we do when we want children to stop behaving in ways that we find unacceptable. Not all punishment is wrong or opposed to biblical discipline, but the tendency is to apply some physical punishment as the sole remedy for misbehavior. For example, a parent may spank a five-year-old who hurts her brother deliberately or “ground” a teenager who lied about his whereabouts. Doing these things by themselves is simply parents’ attempt to stop the wrong behavior. Instruction is required if we want children to learn from their mistakes. Scripture teaches that verbal instruction, both positive and negative, is to be the primary means by which we discipline our children. Many people use Proverbs verses to justify corporal punishment, (10:13; 13:24; 22:15; 23:13; 29:15 in particular). However, there are many more verses that counsel us to give good verbal instruction to our children as the primary means by which we discipline them.

Biblical discipline is the practice of raising children in the fear of the Lord. It involves ongoing teaching, prayer, devotions, modeling, and experience with making choices and discernment based on biblical insight, integrity, and holiness. Instruction is required if we want children to learn from their mistakes. The first sections of Proverbs Chapters 1-7 contain valuable instructions for families, and especially children. Proverbs 2:1-8 begins with a directive to a son (or daughter) to listen to and embrace the parents’ teaching. Parents must teach, but not all children welcome their parents’ biblical instruction; it is crucial to have an environment conducive to learning and growing spiritually in the home. Parents are required not only to teach doctrinally but train their children in being teachable so that children will learn to “call out for insight and raise [their] voice[s] for understanding…[to] seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures” (vs. 3-4). The result will be reverent fear of the Lord, knowledge of God, and godly wisdom (vs. 5-7). This will then lead to protection from temptations, the ability to hold onto integrity, and living a life that is exemplified by humble wisdom and watchfulness (vs. 7-8).

At the end of the article, the Barna Group concludes, “personal relationships have become even more important [than church services] in evangelism, with a majority of salvation decisions coming in direct response to an invitation given by a family member or friend.” No matter how old your child or grandchild may be, personal witnessing, in a timely and gracious manner is our calling as Christians, and an essential aspect of disciplining them.

* The Barna Group, Evangelism is Most Effective Among Kids, October 11, 2004,

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