"Discipline your son, for there is hope; do not set your heart on putting him to death."
The last few weeks have seen some difficult days in the parenting of our children. This last Tuesday was a dark day for parenting. All our efforts seemed useless. We would teach the truth of God's word. We would repeatedly use physical discipline. We would present the need of the gospel and the new birth. But it seemed this was to no effect. The same crimes would be committed over and over again. We felt hopeless. What more could we do? It was ironic that this was the day when our Man to Man Bible and Coffee group was meeting to discuss parenting. The next morning during my regular devotions, I came to this verse. It was like light in a dark place. I hope it will be so for you too.
What is discipline? John Kitchen in his Proverbs commentary gives this definition: "The word translated 'Discipline' refers to correction of some kind that is aimed at educating the individual toward a better course." We are all born to roll down the road of sin and death. Discipline is needed to change our path to the way of grace and life. Discipline involves teaching and instruction concerning the right way and the use of physical punishment in love to reinforce this truth. Both are important and needed. Discipline when done as God has instructed us is hard work. We might feel tempted to give up and let our child go his own way. Just ignore Johnny's mischief for now. It isn't worth the trouble today. The truth is when we ignore God's instruction on the discipline of our children we are letting our children walk unhindered in the way of death. A failure to discipline is a death sentence to our children. It may lead to their physical death as they live godless lives. It will certainly, but for God's grace, bring them to complete spiritual death.
Discipline brings hope. Discipline can be used by God to bring spiritual life to our children. We have no promises that say if we only follow God's instructions for raising children then they will all be good Christians. We could do everything right and still one of our children could walk away from the truth. But often it is the faithful discipline of God-fearing parents that is soaked in prayers which is used by God to bring spiritual life to our children. This proverb is to encourage us to keep on disciplining our children. Even when there is no immediate results, and we are tired and weary. We need to persevere in training our children. So long as we continue in this there is hope for them.