by Pastor Tim Burt
One day when my daughter Stephanie was about three years old and having a bad day, she laid down on the kitchen floor and threw the tantrum of all tantrums. She quickly discovered this would never be allowed in our home. And, she never did it again.
Parents want their children to grow up obedient, become well-adjusted, learn to make good decisions, and be prepared to succeed in this world. Good parents realize that this doesn’t happen in a vacuum. God’s word teaches us that without boundaries—His guidelines and ways—human life would end up in chaos. That is the meaning of Proverbs 29:18 NKJV, “Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; but blessed is he who keeps the law.” The meaning the original Hebrew implies of this verse is this: Where there is no revelation or understanding of God’s authority and knowledge of how to live according to His word, the people are exposed, naked, without a covering of protection, and because of that, wander around in chaos. But he that learns of and keeps God’s ways is one that is happy and has God’s hedge of protection around him. This verse is the central verse of instructional verses focusing on discipline and boundaries for children and adults alike.
God’s word teaches us of the need for and value of restraints and boundaries. It is not about do’s and don’ts. Boundaries are motivated by God’s parental heart of love and desire to protect us. And of course, this love extends to each and every one of us. God’s boundaries and instructions for living are designed to keep us from hurting ourselves and from hurting each other. God teaching us boundaries and the need for restraint is His love spilling over to us. Boundaries are not confining, but to the contrary, liberating. They are designed to point us to that which brings blessing and to steer us away from that which could lead to a life of hurt, pain, destruction, and death. Little Johnny and Sally’s parents tell them not to ride their scooters out into the street. Why? Because they want to take away their fun? No, because they want to protect them from the harm they are unaware of.
If we love our children we lay these boundaries down for them, but then we also model them so they can imitate us over the progression of their lives. If you don’t want your children to scream, then don’t be a screaming parent—don’t tolerate it from yourself or them! If we don’t love them, we let them do whatever they want to. But, that leads them to become unruly and uncontrollable children that have little to no self-restraint or respect for anyone. They then grow up to hate any form of restraint or boundaries while belligerently spewing, You can’t tell me what to do. I’ll do whatever I please! And belligerent is the right word. It means to be war-like or one who wages war. Sometimes children and teens act like that. (As do some adults.) They head straight toward life-long destructive behaviors. That is why Proverbs 13:24 NIV says that a part of love is discipline. “He who spares the rod (does not follow through with correction that results in a change of behavior) hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him. If we don’t follow through in instructing our children in the knowledge and instruction of God’s Word and establishing boundaries with consistent discipline, then we contribute to their destruction. Proverbs 19:18 NIV says, “Discipline your son, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to his death.” (If you need more help learning how to discipline your children, go to YouTube and watch SuperNanny. It’s amazing and like watching a miracle.)
Parents, if you never understood this, then please grasp it now: God has given you the privilege and responsibility and about 18 years to raise them in the Lord before you turn them back over to Him. Every one of those years is important but the first five are the most critical if you want to experience success with the rest!
Parents need to know that they have only a few years to set the course for just how their little Johnny or Tamica is going to respond to their authority and other authority figures for the rest of their lives. Our children had learned boundaries, received correction and discipline, and learned to treat people with respect. This was mostly established by the time they were five years old. It minimized bad behavior going forward and made raising our children an absolute joy! They have grown into adults and are now great people. We love them and they love us.
Discipline applied consistently and appropriately is one real proof of your love. If this is done correctly it will help fill your life with joy. If left undone it will fill your life with grief. Proverbs 19:18 NLT says: Discipline your children while there is hope. If you don’t, you will ruin their lives. Make the effort to get this part right. If you do it with love and follow-through and not empty threats, you will be doing yourself a favor that will reward you for the rest of your life. This is God’s love! Oh, and if you thought this post was just about children, it’s not! Don’t forget about yourself. Do you restrain yourself? Have you set disciplines and boundaries for your own well-adjustedness? Restraint is not a kid thing. It is a life thing! God uses His Word to speak to your heart, set your boundaries and chastise you, reminding you right from wrong! Receive it and respond to it or you yourself will become unruly!
Proverbs 13:24 (NLT) If you refuse to discipline your children, it proves you don’t love them; if you love your children, you will be prompt to discipline them.
In His love,
Pastor Tim Burt
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