Eternal Savior Lutheran Church

A member of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod

2688 North Park Drive
Lafayette, CO 80026
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February 21st, 2012 – Matters of Discipline

“Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you strike him with a rod, he will not die. If you strike him with the rod, you will save his soul from Sheol.” Proverbs 23:13,14

Devotional Thought For The Day

There have always been wicked people who justify the physical abuse of children, which ordinarily occurs when parents or other authorities punish out of their own wrath, anger, and rage. There have also always been dense people who don’t understand that corporal punishment is not intended to physically harm a child, but rather to provide them with a modicum of negative reinforcement [some pain and discomfort] that rather quickly goes away. The common sense result of proper discipline, not such abuse, is that a child’s heart will become “wise” and he will desist from foolishness, rebellion, and misbehavior that may even destroy repentance and faith. We’ve all met children who because of lack of discipline seemed destined to self-destruction, in large part due to arrogance. Not always, but far more often than not, good parental discipline yields good results.

Why is such discipline required, and why is it that it is repugnant to so many people today? Discipline is required because of sinful human nature, our innate rebellion and also our need to learn that foolish behavior has consequences – though some children may not need corporal discipline to learn this.  Why is physical discipline frowned upon today, and for the most part forbidden by our secular laws?  There are two reasons – first, we deny the reality of the sinful and belligerent nature of human beings, including children, in part because we want to consider our own sin and rebellion to be normal and reasonable, and second, because of the horrid exaggerated abuse that wicked and foolish parents inflict on their children in the name of “discipline.” Someone has to step in and stop such evil insanity – it simply cannot be tolerated.

Of course, none of this removes the most critical need, and that is for forgiveness. Though God disciplines us because He loves us, and “chastises every son whom He receives” [Heb. 12:6], more importantly He graciously forgives us for Christ’s sake, and continues to embrace us, hold us up, and support us. This is the ideal in parenting – to correctly and accurately understand God’s great love for us, how and why He disciplines us, that He still fully and completely forgives us and withholds nothing of His great love from us, and to then discipline others, children and those under our authority,  in the same manner.  While “behavior” certainly matters, what is of even greater importance is continuing love, forgiveness, mercy, and relationship. This is destroyed both by laxity in discipline as well as abuse in the name of discipline.

The principle goal in parenting and in discipline is not that the one under our authority “like” us – although we would prefer that they do. The chief concern is that they not go to “Sheol,” to hell, but rather that they remain firm in their relationship with God through repentance and faith. This also is the basis for all genuine relationships between human beings – repentance [not only saying “I’m sorry,” but being sorry for the pain and grief we cause others] and faith that they forgive us and continue to love us even when we err and sin against them.  Thus it is that how we relate to others can either build up or erode their relationship with God, especially their faith in His forgiveness and love. This is the context within which “discipline” must be considered calmly and rationally.

Prayer For The Day

Dear Lord Jesus, forgive us for the times when we discipline out of our anger and frustration – whether physically, verbally, or emotionally. Remind us of your gentle love for us, especially when that love is expressed in resolute discipline. Enable us to fully grasp Your forgiveness and love, so that we may reflect that same love in our relationships with others, especially our children. Heal and correct the harm we have done, either through laxity or severity, and richly bless our children. Amen.