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 tantrums of all tantrums. That was not allowed and she quickly discovered that. I appropriately disciplined her. She never did that again. Parents want their children to grow up obedient, well-adjusted, and prepared to take on and succeed in this world. Good parents realize that this doesn’t happen in a vacuum. God’s word teaches us that without boundaries which is what His Word, laws, and ways, establish in life, human life would end up in chaos. That is the meaning of Proverbs 29:18 NLT that says “When people do not accept divine guidance, they run wild. But whoever obeys the law is happy.” This verse is in the midst of instructional verses focusing on discipline and boundaries for children and adults alike.
God’s word teaches us of the need and value of restraints and boundaries. 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 harm. When children are defiant, consequences are to be clearly laid out and executed so as to bring their attitude and heart toward obedience. Proverbs 19:27 (NIV) warns, “Stop listening to instruction, my son, and you will stray from the words of knowledge.” Proverbs 19:20 (NIV) exhorts, “Listen to advice and accept instruction, and in the end you will be wise.” These are the establishing of boundaries of obedience and wisdom that protect children and adults alike.
If we love our children, we lay these boundaries down for them. We also model them so they can imitate us over the progression of their lives. If we don’t love them, we let them do whatever they want to and we become hypocritical saying or modeling Do what I say, not what I do. The result of that will be unruly and uncontrollable children that have little to no respect for anyone, and that grow to hate any form of restraint or boundaries. In this case you’ll eventually hear the words, You can’t tell me what to do. I’ll do whatever I want! because they’ve headed straight toward life-long destructive behaviors. That is why Proverbs 13:24 (NIV) says that part of what love is, is discipline. “He who spares the rod (the parent who does not follow through with correction) 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 I could, I’d force parents to sit down and watch at least ten episodes of Super Nanny. I sincerely believe that this show is God’s grace to parents. What I love is that you see before your very eyes, what happens to children without discipline and then what happens to children that are surrounded by the effective boundaries of discipline. The only missing ingredient is to teach them God’s love and heart and reason for showing respect and good behavior. You can provide that as you yourself learn from God’s Word.
Parents need to know that they have only a few years to set the course for just how their little Johnny or Susie is going to respond to their authority and other authority figures for the rest of their lives. Those early years between 3 and 5 are critical years to instruct them. Proverbs 19:18 (NLT) says, “Discipline your children while there is hope. Otherwise you will ruin their lives.”
Our children learned boundaries, receiving correction and discipline. We taught them the importance of treating people with respect. This was mostly established in them by the time they were five years old. It minimized bad behavior going forward and made raising our children an absolute joy! (But of course, yes, we had our moments!) They are now adults and great people and great friends. We love them and they love us.
Discipline applied consistently and appropriately are real proof of your love. God disciplines and chastises us with His Word. He speaks to our heart and we have to decide whether we are like obedient or unruly children. Likewise, were are to discipline our children appropriately and we need to do it especially in the early years (And again, appropriately!) As Proverbs 13:24 (NLT) says, “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.” This doesn’t mean haul off and yell at them or hit them. It means stop and talk about the behavior in the moment. Make sure they understand the consequences. Execute them when they continue to disobey and walk through it again and again until you see the results you should see. It may be an intense few years but make your excuses and don’t do this and it will fill your life with grief. Make the effort to get this part right and you will be doing yourself (and the world around you) a favor that will reward you for the rest of your life!
In His love,
Pastor Tim Burt
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