A Parent's Love

Scripture: Proverbs 13:24, ‘He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.’


Observations: This verse has often been used to justify smacking, but the point of this verse is not so much about smacking as it is about discipline. Only someone who hates their children refuses to discipline them. On the flip side, if you love your children you are careful to discipline them. Why is discipline an example of love? Firstly, it recognizes that everyone is sinful, including our children. If you don’t discipline your children you are saying that sin is okay. Secondly, it recognizes that some behaviour is good and life affirming, while other behaviour is bad and destructive. A parent disciplines their children because they don’t want them to die. Later Proverbs says, ‘punish him with the rod and save his soul from death. (Prov 23:14)’ It’s also worth nothing that we are to be ‘careful’ in our discipline. We need to think about what is appropriate for the life-stage, the personality, and the issue at hand – one method doesn’t work in every situation. Being ‘careful’ also implies that we discipline our children in a way that shows we care for them. It’s interesting that Proverbs talks about how God disciplines us, ‘the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in. (Prov 3:12)’


Application: Firstly, how seriously and carefully do you take the discipline of your children? Do you confront sinful attitudes and behaviours in their lives? Do you affirm good behaviour and punish bad behaviour? How might your discipline be unloving, or not careful? Secondly, how has good disciplined you in the past, and how might he be disciplining you right now? What attitudes or behaviours in your life need to change? Maybe you could pray David’s prayer, ‘See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. (Ps 139:24)’


Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, as the old hymn goes, ‘if there’s need for changing people let it begin with me.’ Lord, if there are things in my life that need to change by the power of Your Spirit give me the grace and the wisdom and the will to make those changes in my life. Lord, bring to light the things in my life that are offensive to You, and lead me in Your way, the way that leads to eternal life. And Lord, help me lead my children in Your ways also. Give me wisdom and grace as I encourage and discipline them, that they too might live for Your honour and glory. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

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