“Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.” (Proverbs 13:24)
Discipline is a controversial topic in parenting. Some claim that spanking is cruel, while others insist it is the biblical way to correct and train children. I am not going to get into a debate on this issue. I am, however, going to address the importance of disciplining children.
First, it is important to understand the purpose of discipline. Godly discipline seeks to not only change behavior, but to change the heart as well. Isn’t this how God disciplines us? His discipline has a purpose – to conform us into the image of His Son, to reflect His holiness and to radiate His glory. He doesn’t discipline because He is aggravated or because He wants an army of soldiers who never question His commands. His discipline is an overflow of His love and righteousness. His commands are for our good, and He wants to make sure we learn this truth.
Earthly discipline should mirror God’s discipline. At its core, it is meant to transform from the inside out, not merely to control behavior. If this is the goal, discipline will not only be punitive, it will also include training and practicing what is right. So often as parents, our sole focus is on correcting bad behavior and we forget to affirm and encourage our children when they choose what is right.
So, as you deal with your children on a daily basis, remember the purpose of discipline. It should always be seasoned with grace and compassion, just as God has shown us. It should seek to reach the heart, not just the behavior. And most importantly, remember to pray for your children, trusting that God desires to transform them into men and women who follow Him.
Prayer: Holy Father, thank You for my children. Please forgive me for the times I discipline them in anger and frustration. Please give me wisdom as I seek to train them in the way You want them to go. Please give them a heart for You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
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