After we have instructed our children, how are we to correct them when they sin?
And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.Hebrews 12:5-11
All discipline by earthly parents is to be illustrative of the discipline of our Heavenly Father. The way we discipline our children is going to have a profound effect on the way they view God. We must discipline them in a manner that points them to Christ so that they have a correct view of God and His love. Discipline is not about having well-behaved kids. It is about raising children to know, understand, and love God.
As a Father, God disciplines His children. This discipline is not pleasant, and it is described as a spanking. It is short, painful, and corrective. God is seeking to show His children the pain sin brings and restore them to a right relationship with Himself. This process is not enjoyable, but it produces fruit in the future. Parents should discipline in the same manner that God disciplines His children.
He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.Proverbs 13:24
The parent who refuses to correct his child through physical discipline is teaching their child that God the Father does not punish sin. They are producing a child that will face God’s wrath. This is hatred, not love.
Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying.Proverbs 19:18
As we saw in Hebrews, discipline is not enjoyable. However, we must discipline our children so that they may repent before it is too late.
Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.Proverbs 22:15
Our children are born sinners who are walking away from God. We must discipline them to bring them back into the fear of God.
Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell.Proverbs 23:13-14
We must discipline our children. It is not fun to spank a child. However, we are doing this to bring our children to repentance.
Open rebuke is better than secret love.Proverbs 27:5
True love for a child confronts the child’s sin.
The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.Proverbs 29:15
If we do not discipline our children, we will raise children that will bring us much shame as parents.
Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul.Proverbs 29:17
If you take the time to discipline your children, there will come a time when you can truly enjoy your children and rest in peace knowing that they are following Christ.
And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.Ephesians 6:4
We must ensure that all discipline is done in an appropriate way. If we become abuse, vindictive, or angry we will produce exasperated children who will run from God not to God. Under no circumstances should a child be physically assaulted or abused. This is a sin against God. Physical discipline should be measured and controlled. Under no circumstances should an out of control or angry parent discipline a child. Slapping a child’s face, dragging them by their hair, etc. is wrong. This will give a completely false impression of Who God is. All discipline should be done in love and end with a completely restored relationship. The point of corrective discipline is to correct the child and bring them back to the right path. We are not seeking to exact vengeance on our children or take out our frustrations on them.
And he said, A certain man had two sons: And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him. And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.Luke 15:11-24
What about older children? Obviously, we need to start when our children are young; however, we can see from the Prodigal Son that parental discipline can take other forms as a child grows older. The point Jesus is making is about a loving Father who longs for His child to return to the right path. It is clear from the passage that the Father would not tolerate the son’s behavior in His home. There are times as parents that we must remove privileges and other things to make clear to our older children that certain sins are not tolerated in our homes. However, the goal is always restoration.