56: What the Bible Says about Discipline

The Bible says that, “If you love your children, you will be prompt to discipline them.” (Proverbs 13:24b NLT) This runs contrary to how many parents view discipline. Some people think discipline is mean or heartless. While this is understandable, it is somewhat of a shortsighted view of discipline. Discipline is for a child’s good, not harm. It may be painful or unpleasant for a short time, but in the end it brings about changes in a child’s life that are good for him. That is why it is loving.

When a dentist drills into my tooth to remove decay, he is not being mean. He is putting me through discomfort, but it is for my own good. While it would be easy to view him as being unkind or even cruel, the reality is that he has devoted himself to a compassionate and caring profession. In the same way, when administered correctly, a parent’s discipline is very loving.

The Bible also says that there is hope in discipline. Many parents feel hopeless in parenting. They are forever at the end of their patience, and they feel the outcome of their parenting is no more guaranteed than the flip of a coin. Proverbs 19:18 says, “Discipline your son, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to his death.” Discipline brings hope because it corrects the natural direction of a child’s life and his natural inclination to take the path of destruction. There is a light at the end of the tunnel! There is a return here on the earth for all of your hard work! What do you think the verse means when it says, “Do not be a willing party to his death”? If you recall, in the case of Eli’s sons, their unrestrained sin led, quite literally, to their deaths. The same might be said of David’s sons Amnon, Absalom, and Adonijah. Proverbs 19:18 could also be a little more figurative and might be translated as “Do not let them destroy themselves” (NCV) or “If you don't, you will ruin their lives.” (NLT) However you want to translate it, one thing is clear: parenting is serious business, and biblical discipline offers much hope in what could otherwise be a grave situation.

The Bible also says that disciplining your child can bring peace and delight to your soul.

Proverbs 29:17 Discipline your son, and he will give you peace; he will bring delight to your soul.

Have you ever been frustrated with your kids? Are you at your wit’s end at times? Has the thought of, “Now I understand how child abuse happens,” ever crossed your mind? I’m sure most of us can relate to those feelings. Parenting can get pretty stressful at times. Just as the sight of a boat gives hope to a cast-away, or the sight of an oasis gives hope to a desert wanderer, discipline is the hope of a parent. If you are helpless, wearied, beaten down, haggard, frazzled, fried, and fatigued by your kids, you need discipline. Discipline restores peace to a home. Even a parent who has started to dislike his own children can turn the corner by bringing discipline into the home. God says that your child can even become a delight to your soul, so that the thought of him does not bring frustration and stress, but pleasure and enjoyment.

Let’s not get all caught up in looking at the benefits we’ve discussed and miss the bigger picture here. God is directing you to discipline your children. He is not throwing it out as an option and giving you a few reasons to consider whether or not you want to take His advice. The three passages we just looked at could be abbreviated to the following directives: “Be prompt to discipline,” “Discipline your son,” and again, “Discipline your son.” Discipline is not optional; it is commanded. Remember Eli? His failure to discipline his children was not overlooked. He, himself, was punished severely for failing to follow God’s direction in this.

While we certainly don’t have perfect kids, we have reaped the benefits of discipline. We are hopeful for the future of our kids, our home is peaceful, and our children’s behavior is a delight to us. As we’ve loved our kids enough to shape and train them, we’ve found that it really works. Imagine that! God’s way is the best way.

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