13 Do not withhold discipline from a child;
if you punish him with the rod, he will not die.
14 Punish him with the rod
and save his soul from death. Proverbs 23:13-14
The police officer had his pistol pointed directly at James and was yelling to put his hands up. Finally, in desperation, the officer yelled, “Please put your hands up, I don’t want to hurt you. James reached for his weapon and the officer shot him. Once the officer’s bodycam footage became public the officer was cleared of any wrongdoing in killing James.
Why wouldn’t James listen to the officer? You see, James died the way he lived – without discipline. Though James came from a two-parent home, he continually did the opposite of what he had been taught. His parents, James Sr and Sarah, plopped on the couch after the funeral wondering what else they could have done to alter the outcome of James’ life.
What if more parents were concerned about the outcome of their children’s lives prior to major tragedy? What steps could be taken today to produce positive outcomes in the future? Perhaps as a parent, you, like James and Sarah, have thought about what to do with raising good children. In this sermon, there are two major expository points and a point of application. The sermon title is “Committed to Loving Discipline.”
#1 “Children Need Discipline.”
Discipline can be verbal or physical. The text talks about a “rod.” In biblical times a small stick was used to correct children. Today the rod may be taken as hyperbole. So, sparing the rod is sparing any discipline. The rod is not essential, discipline is! Parents have the responsibility to discipline their children.
Discipline is not designed to hurt or harm children but to help them. Discipline must be done properly. When it is done properly is constructive, not destructive. Discipline could be seen as a toolbox. Abraham Maslow said, “To a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” The discipline toolbox is filled with many tools. Parents must learn to utilize all the tools, not just one or two.
Though many parents have done discipline improperly, there is no excuse for little or no discipline. Some parents rebel against their parents by not disciplining their own children. Discipline, when done properly, is not abusive. It is not mentally, verbally, or emotionally abusive. Col 3:21, “Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.”
To discipline is to punish a child to teach them that life has consequences. Children are prone to make mistakes because they are young or filled with folly. Sometimes they make mistakes innocently, other times it is not by mistake but intentionally. Either way, when children are off course, discipline helps them to get back on course. Discipline helps them to understand the consequences of getting off course. Discipline gives them the motivation to stay on course. Though children tend to act as if they are going to die, this proverb assures us, they will not die.
We know they will not die because we did not die. How you punish the children is at the discretion of each parent. Punishment is good! Punishment teaches valuable lessons that they will only learn because of the punishment. It may be a stern conversation, taking privileges, extra chores, or restricted activities, it may even ultimately result in spankings. Children need discipline because they need to learn that there are consequences for making mistakes. Listen to these two other verses from Proverbs 19:18 says, “Discipline your son, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to his death.” Proverbs 13:24, “He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.” The first lesson is children need discipline, the second lesson is…
#2 “Discipline Saves Children.”
Just up the street from our church is a metal guard rail that prevents cars from crashing into the ditch. In the last three years, we have noticed the county has replaced it every 5-6 months. The guard rail is not there to kill drivers but to keep cars on the road and out of the ditch. Parents who understand discipline use it to keep their children from crashing into the ditches of life. Doing no to little discipline is leaving a child to run off the road. Proverbs 22:15, “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him.”
Parents who sincerely want to save their children from destruction use some form of discipline. Discipline does not require anger. In fact, it is best when it is filled with love instead of bitterness. Parents who love their children refuse to look the other way. Notice how the anonymous author of Hebrews addressed discipline. “7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? (Heb 12:7)” When followers of Jesus Christ go through difficult times it is like God, the Heavenly Father, bringing correction to his children. So, if our Heavenly Father disciplines His children, we are expected to discipline ours too. Hebrews 12:11 takes it a little further, “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”
A three-year-old left unchecked will be an embarrassment to his family when he is 13 years old. Parents discipline their children early so that they will be disciplined as adults later. “If you whip your children, you will not have to whip them.” When your children know you don’t play, they do not play with you.
Many young people have become adults and told their parents I am grateful for the discipline that you instilled in me when I was younger. I did not understand it as a child, but I appreciate it now. They compare their lives to that of their undisciplined friends and they know that the difference is because of the discipline they received as a child. Those hard conversations did not feel good, but their men and women today because of it. Those punishments were not fun, but they helped them understand right from wrong. Those whippings were not fun at the time, but they made them understand that life comes with consequences.
Back in the 1960s when police officers walked the beat, they heard through an open window a father giving his wayward son physical discipline. The officers went to the door to ask if everything was okay. The father answered I am doing my job now so you will not need to do it later. The father said, “Let me handle my business so my son will not be any of your business.” The officers walked away slowly and soon heard that father chastising his son again. That father as verse 14 says was trying to save his son’s soul from death.
- Examine your discipline toolbox and determine the hierarchy of disciplinary tools you have. Do you only have a hammer? Do you only curse at the children? Do you only talk with no threat of action?
- Determine today to only do discipline when your emotions are under control.