Discipline – A Biblical Balance

“The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame” (Proverbs 29:15).

When it comes to child discipline there are two extremes.

There are some who teach spanking as the predominant aspect of Biblical child rearing, but it’s not. It should be the exception rather than the rule and only when they have intentionally disobeyed. Don’t discipline a child for just spilling a glass of milk if he didn’t intentionally do it on purpose.

The key factor in child rearing is not discipline – if that’s you’re emphasis then you’re headed for trouble. The key factor in child rearing is to win the child’s heart (Proverbs 23:26; Malachi 4:6). If you discipline without having the child’s heart then you are sowing the seeds of bitterness and rebellion. The more you have of your child’s heart, the less you will need to discipline.

There is also a fine line between discipline and abuse. If you discipline in anger then you have stepped across that line (Proverbs 22:8). Don’t ever discipline a child if you’re angry. And if you do, you need to take responsibility for your anger and you need to sincerely ask that child’s forgiveness. You may also need to make yourself accountable to your spouse or church leadership.

The other extreme refuses to discipline at all. The parents themselves may have been abused. They may have witnessed the frustrated mother exploding in the grocery store and they associate any form of physical discipline in a very negative light. But the right kind of discipline is not negative – it’s positive. There is nothing violent or abusive about discipline if it is done Biblically.

The motivation of Biblical discipline is not to punish but to teach the child. Proverbs 29:15 says “The rod and reproof give wisdom…” It would be inapt for a parent not to correct his child’s math allowing him to believe that 1+1=3; but it is also inapt for the parent not to correct his child’s selfishness and disobedience allowing him to believe that his inappropriate behavior is acceptable.

The Bible is very clear that God expects parents to discipline and teach their children. It’s not the job of the school, the day-care, the church or even the state. It is the parent’s responsibility to “… bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).

Morris Hull, Home Life Ministries