The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.
Discipline your son, and he will give you rest; he will give delight to your heart.
The question most Christians have is how much law is too much law when raising our children? The Gospel is sweet and tells us that even though we have broken God’s law we are forgiven because Jesus obeyed the Law of God perfectly on our behalf and died as satisfaction for the wrath we deserved for our disobedience. So then, how strict should we be with our children?
There is a problem with this line of questioning. God’s law is not evil or problematic for the Christian. The Law is a delight to the believer and the thing he/she longs to uphold. So, as we have been looking in Deuteronomy, we must be clear about the Law of God to our children. We must repeat it to them and explain it diligently to them. Only when we are clear about the Law, can we be clear about discipline and grace. Christian parents are not able to effectively show a biblical standard of discipline when the Law is not clearly taught. Grace becomes licentiousness when the Law is not clearly explained.
Why? Discipline is harsh when children do not know why they are being disciplined. Granted children easily forget so we must be diligent in explaining the consequences of rule breaking as much as is necessary. Discipline without clear expectations and consequences leave children feeling unloved. Proverbs teaches us that discipline is necessary to gain wisdom. Children are able to decide if the law breaking will be worth the punishment. When parents are consistent with discipline children learn that law breaking is never worth it. Just as the pleasure of sin is never worth the consequence.
Moreover, parents show grace when they are able to show their children that they have been given clear rules based on God’s Law, when the consequences for Law breaking have been established, and consequences are absorbed despite the offence. Too many times Christian parents look at their children and think it could be worse. Comparing our children to other children is unhealthy and unbiblical. It teaches our children to be pharisees and makes us into them as well. God’s Word is clear on the benefits of discipline, but it also teaches the Christian to be grace oriented. It is not difficult to teach our children the Gospel when we are able to show them a glimpse of it in our relationship to them.
To do this biblically, we must follow God's model. We must clearly explain the expectations to our children based on God's Word. We must clearly define the consequences and rewards for disobedience or obedience. We must uphold those standards not matter how tiring it becomes. Periodically, we can show grace to our children by withholding the consequences they deserve, but we must always explain the Gospel when doing so. If not, we are merely teaching our children that there are no consequences to sin. The Gospel teaches us that there is grace for all of us though we have failed. Repentance is the goal, not licentiousness.
Take heart that the practice is hard but brings many blessings. As the Proverb declares, our children will then bring us delight.
If you have any questions or comments about this article please email Pastor Armando Jr at firstname.lastname@example.org.