Biblical Discipline: What Does The Bible Say?

by Jean Stockdale

Eph 64


Before our move to the country our family lived in a suburb of Memphis, TN. Our home looked like a country farmhouse. It had a high-pitched roof, a two-story porch, and wooden shutters. From my kitchen sink, I could see through the entryway to the front porch.

One afternoon I was frantically trying to pull dinner together during what we affectionately called “the arsenic hour.” After a tiring day, I had the arduous task of making leftovers appeal to a family of picky eaters. Frustrated by my lack of planning, I leaned against the kitchen sink in aggravation. Tears of disappointment formed in the corners of my eyes and threatened to spill down my cheeks as I thought about my inadequacies as a homemaker. As a mom, I regularly belittled myself. I was my own worst critic. I repeatedly struggled with feelings of incompetence and self-loathing. On this particular day, my fragile world was caving under the weight of my own unmet expectations.

The doorbell rang, and I looked up and saw Jason standing at the front door. He was continually ringing the bell. Irritated by his childish behavior I responded, “What is it?” in an annoyed tone. Then I saw the full picture. My son stood before me with a huge bouquet of flowers he had picked for me! Jason immediately reacted to my harsh tone.

The crushed expression on his face pierced my soul and grieved my spirit. Jason dropped his eyes and shuffled his feet. He said softly, “I picked these for you.” I was immediately brought low with conviction and rushed to apologize. I knelt beside him. I tried to explain I was annoyed with myself. He had simply been the unfortunate recipient of my misplaced anger. Ashamed and embarrassed, I prayed aloud and asked God to forgive my impatience and unkind words.

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

Having asked God’s forgiveness, I asked Jason to forgive me. “Of course I forgive you,” he replied cheerfully. Jason hugged me tightly and shoved the flowers in my hands. Smiling into my tear-stained face he dashed off to resume playing with friends. Our children are often the ones who suffer for our failures! Thankfully, children are very resilient and quick to respond favorably when asked to forgive.

Anger is often the response of a frustrated, overwhelmed, sleep-deprived mom. Unfortunately, an angry response can wound the heart of your child and cause a difficult situation to escalate. Paul knew the danger of anger. He wrote:

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” Eph. 6:4

The Greek word Paul used for fathers is translated elsewhere as parents. Paul includes mothers in his admonition to avoid anger in Christian parenting.

Prov. 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.”

Biblical discipline is the systematic training of children. Discipline involves the overall instruction of children, including but not limited to, punishment.

Prov. 29:17 says, “Correct your son, and he will give you comfort; he will also delight your soul.”

 The word correct means “to admonish, discipline, and instruct.” The process of discipline involves correction, instruction, exhortation, example, chastening, encouragement, praise, and punishment. Biblical discipline is the process of training children in righteousness. This practice is to be reasonable, fair, and administered in love.

Biblical correction, when properly administered, produces the peaceful fruit of righteousness (Heb.12:11). The task of training children is difficult. Punishment tears at a mother’s heart. She is hesitant to cause pain to her offspring. Mom may talk herself out of enforcing punishment to avoid making herself uncomfortable. The consistent enforcement of discipline can be inconvenient. Overlooking an offense is generally easier on all concerned. Sometimes mom is just too tired to execute the promised disciplinary action. Some moms are too soft on this issue while others are guilty of administering discipline too severely.

How can you find the balance? As in all of life, God’s Word holds the key. Consistently, continually, and consciously train your children to walk in the ways of the Lord.

“Hear, my son, your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching; indeed they are a graceful wreath to your head and ornaments about your neck.” Prov. 1:8-9.

Jean Stockdale

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