by Pastor Patrick Cho
One of the places in Scripture to find a wealth of helpful principles for parenting is the Proverbs. Almost every book on parenting will reference these Scriptures repeatedly because of the wisdom they contain. Besides the plethora of verses that apply to parenting indirectly, several passages address parenting specifically.
“My son, do not reject the discipline of the LORD or loathe His reproof, for whom the LORD loves He reproves, even as a father corrects his son in whom he delights.” (Proverbs 3:11-12)
Solomon knew the Lord’s discipline from experience. There was a keen awareness that God had purposed good for the one He reproves, and that His discipline is an act of love towards His children. While this passage is more about the Lord than it is about parenting, there is an important principle involved for parenting: Discipline, understood and exercised according to Scripture, is an act of love. When parents correct their children, the intention is always to be instructive and the motive is always to be love.
This is one of the many passages that speak against punishing children out of anger or without restraint. A loving father has a plan in his discipline, and he practices correction because of his delight in his son and not his hatred. When we as parents meet opportunities to help our children when they disobey, our first thought in the discipline needs to be, “Am I seeking to help my child in the Lord? Am I instructing my child toward greater godliness to love and fear God, or am I through my angry outbursts actually deterring faith in my child?”
One reason parents ought to discipline their children toward godliness is because this is what the Lord does for His children. Parents, then, can mimic the Lord and even represent Him through their loving and formative discipline. As their child grows up, hopefully they will come to appreciate their parents’ correction because they understand that they were being steered towards Jesus and away from the things that would take their hearts farther from Him. This is also the reason discipline must be accompanied and applied with prayer to orient a parent’s heart toward God and help curb sinful attitudes and emotions. Depend upon the Lord to use godly discipline to steer your child’s heart to Him.