“My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights…Discipline your son, for there is hope; do not set your heart on putting him to death” (Proverbs 3:11-12; 19:8)
“[God] disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:10b-11)
We used to live in a world where we could just access any information at any time via the internet and social media. Now we live in a world where that information is sent and fed to us without even asking. News headlines pop up on our phones and ads for products we use magically appear on our social media pages. We have moved past instant gratification to “I get you, here’s what you need” in the most impersonal way. Entitlement is pervasive in the American culture and gaining ground around the globe. To fight this plague—and fight we must if we belong to Christ—we turn to God’s Word that advises us to never give up on our children’s discipline to counter this culture creep.
Proverbs 19:8 encourages us to hope for our children and continue disciplining them, no matter how difficult. The King James translation reads, “and let not thy soul spare for his crying.” We are to persevere with instruction, correction, teaching, and consequences for our children no matter how much they cry or complain, no matter how weary we become. We are not to lose hope and give up. Unfortunately, there are times when hope seems to be in vain when a child’s heart is hard and unyielding to any biblical teaching. Then discipline turns to persistent prayer, and the battle for his soul continues.
Hebrews Chapter 12 describes God’s discipline for us under the heading “Do Not Grow Weary” (ESV). The Lord knows our pitiful strength; he knows our tendency to give in and give up because we are tired and overcome by the influences of sin in ourselves, in the world, and from Satan. But we have Jesus, the forerunner of our faith and source of our strength. “Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.” (12:3-4) Jesus’s tough love is a reminder that godly love sometimes must be borne in afflictions, trials, and severe consequences, for our holy sanctification. The author of Hebrews quotes Proverbs 3:11-12, in which Solomon wisely advises his son to remember that God disciplines those whom he loves.
Correctional discipline that involves rebukes, strict consequences, and painful disappointments is necessary for all of us but is especially needful, though agonizing for parents when sin has taken hold of a child’s heart. The familiar saying, “This hurts me more than it hurts you,” has some truth to it because the more we know of God and his holiness the more disappointed we are when he is offended. Discipline is the best way to love our children, and will always result in good when it is based on God’s Word.
Do you believe in corrective discipline to discourage sinful attitudes and behavior? How do you respond to trials and afflictions? What can you learn from God’s correction for you that you can apply to as you lovingly discipline your children?