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TEXT: Proverbs 22:6
SUBJECT: Proverbs #19: The Discipline of Children
THE DISCIPLINE OF CHILDREN IS A PARENTAL DUTY.
That children ought to be disciplined requires little proof. It is stated in our text and reitereated throughout the Word of God. Anyone, therefore, who bows before the authortiy of Scripture, confesses this fact. Indeed, even the light of nature teaches as much. For Paul, in Romans 1, indicts the whole world for its intentional sins, which include, "Disobedient to parents".
But now, the question natrually arises, "To whom has this duty been charged?" To the best of my knowledge, only four answers could be offered. The first three of which are patently opposed to Scripture, the fourth consonant therewith.
So then, negatively:
The discipline of a child is not left to the child himself.
Common sense teaches that wisdom is required in ordering a life. But childrn, by their very nature, lack this wisdom. They must not, therefore, be left to themselves. Consider, e.g., the danger of "Trial and Error" in stepping into the street.
The Scripture, of course, echoes this negation. 29:15.
The discipline of a child is not left to the state.
The discipline of a child is not left to the church.
For, positively, the discipline of a child is committed to the parents, 13:1, 13:24, 15:5, 19:18.
Although the Mother is to be deeply involved in this duty, 29:15.
The chief responsibility lies with th father, as, e.g., Ephesians 6:4.
AN IMPORTANT DUTY.
Under the Providence of God, your life is a matter of choices. Because you are limited by time and space, your choosing of one thing requires the passing-by of another. We call these choices "priorities". They are essential to life. You have a thousand things to do, but you cannot do them all at once. Therefore, you consciously or unconsciously draw up a list, with the most important matters at the top and the trivial things below. Your priorities are obvious. They are revealed, not in what you say, but in what you do. The man, e.g., who "labors for the food which perishes" but will not even lift a finger for "the food which endures to everlasting life", has shown his true priority, loud protests or tearful assurances, notwithstanding.
What place then, should the discipline of children occupy? Everyone would put it near the top of the list. The worst parent would not admit, "I couldn't care less about my children!" But let me put it a different way:
Dear father, "Is the discipline of your children more important than watching your ballgame?" If you permit them to misbehave until the next time-out, then you have answered the question.
Dear mother, "Is the care of your children more important than the extra money you earn at your job?" If you ship them off to child care in order to live in a bigger house, drive a better car, take longer vacations, or "find yourself", then you, too have answered the question.
Dear parents, "Is the discipline of your children more important than his pleasure?" If you refuse to spank because "it hurts", then you too, have displayed your true priorities.
The importance of child discipline cannot be overrated. It must, dear parent, be one of your chief priorities. Consider, please, the following facts:
This discipline is crucial to the child himself.
Under the blessing of God, it, at least, restrains evil behavior. "Do not withhold correction from a child, for if you beat him with a rod, he will not die. You shall beat him with a rod, and deliver his soul from hell" (23:13-14).
NOTE: The word, "hell" is "sheol" and does not denote the place of eternal torment, but simply, "the grave". In this passage, I think it would be fair to paraphrase the Wise Man thusly, "You shall save him from a premature death". ----explain, give examples----.
But it does more than this. Again, with the blessings of Providence, it also forms good character, which produces good behavior in the child. "Blows that hurt cleanse away evi, as do stripes the inner depths of the heart" (20:30); "Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of correction will drive it far from him" (22:15).
This discipline does not ensure the salvation of the child. For salvation is altogether a matter of God's sovereign election. For, according to Paul, "It is not him of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but it is God who shows mercy".
But do not think that this is a mindless/random election. For the God who ordains every end also decrees every means to that end. Thus, in the same context, the Apostle could write, "How then shall they call upon Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe Him they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?"
The godly rearing of children is often blessed of the LORD to their conversion. If, therefore, dear parents, you have any concern for your child's body, no less soul, you must see the importance of discipline.
This discipline is important to the parents.
Right now. Most parents love their children. Very few will confess hatred. But discipline is the chief evidence of the former, and its lack, of the latter. "He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly" (13:24).
So, dear parent, "God is true, and every man is a liar". If, therefore, you neglect the discipline of your children, you hate them...It is as simple as that. If you hate your own children, how can you look yourself in the mirror?
On the Day of Judmgent, it will seem even more important.
"To whom much is given, much will be required".
The lazy servant who wasted the interest on one talent of silver was "cast into outer darkness. There will be weepingt and gnashing of teeth".
How much sorer punishment will await those lazy parents who throw away the souls of their children?
The discipline of children is essential to the peace and prosperity of the home.
Let me cite a verse and draw its obvious application. "It is better to dwell in the corner of a housetop than in a house shared with a contentious woman" (21:9).
If living with one loud wife is bad, then how much worse is being confined with several obnoxious children?
This will put undue strain on every party:
Think of the poor mother, cooped up in a bedlam all day. I have known women who have literally suffered nervous breakdowns because they could not quiet their children.
Men have become strangers to their own homes, because they cannot bear living with the "savages".
Thousands of husbands and wives divorce over this very issue.
Children fail in school because of it. How can a child study if someone is yelling in his ear?
The fondest memory of my childhood is this: I went everywhere with my parents. With the exception of my grandmother, who lived with us for about eight years, I never had a babysitter. The reason is obvious. I was a well-disciplined child, for which I take no personal credit.
The discipline of children is necessary for the welfare of the church.
The church is primarily edified by two means: teaching and fellowship. Badly disciplined children will ruin both.
I think you will agree with this. If preaching is to edify, then two things are necessary. The preacher must clearly think and the congregation must clearly hear. A screaming child makes both impossible. And note: a parent coming in and out a hundred times during the service is nearly as distracting. But then, how do children come to sit quietly in church? Not accidentally. Not miraculously. But only through his parents discipline, which cannot be implemented only on Sundays and Wednesdays but daily.
Well-behaved children are also necessary to fellowship. Consider the following:
Fellowship requires communication. But this is impossible if children are loud, obnoxious, and constantly interrupting.
Furthermore, the negligent parent puts his friend in an impossible dilemma. He is commanded to fellowhship and he is commanded to keep his children from bad influences. How can he solve it?
I can illustrate this point by a personal example. Some years ago my wife and I entertained a couple, whose children were--to put it mildly--unruly. When they left, we literally breathed a long sigh of relief, and literally danced in exquisite rapture. Needless to say, this was not conducive to our fellowship and did not promote hospitality.
The church's witness, too is related to the behavior of the children.
The world does not recognize the truth in words. It has no interest in the Trinity, or the Atonement, or Justification by Faith.
But it does recognize the truth in action. Well-disciplined children is one of the most convincing arguments we have. I wonder which church is more powerful in its presentation of this truth: the orthodox or the heretical? The Baptists or the Mormons???
The discipline of children is crucial to the welfare of society-at- large.
The first government to which a child is subjected is his parents.
But when he is permitted to flout their authority, how can we expect him to submit to the other powers, such as school teachers, pastors, policemen, judges, or anyone else.
Can you see, dear parent, the danger of leniency?
If you permit your child to steal your pennies, then what prevents him from later stealing cars?
If you permit your child to fight with his brothers and sisters, then what hinders him from a life of criminal violence?
It would not be an exaggeration to say that civilization--as we know it--will stand or fall with the discipline of your children.
The discipline of children is important to the glory of God.
It is a great privilege to give glory to God. But how can we mere men and women do so? One of the ways is by "Imitating God, as dear children".
But how can we better imitate God than by disciplining our children? For afterall "My Son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, nor detest His correction. For whom the LORD loves He corrects, just as a father the son in whom he delights" (3:11).
IT IS AN URGENT DUTY.
This means that "good habits" are to be formed early, 22:6.
Worship of God.
IT IS A HOPEFUL DUTY.
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