Proverbs 19:18 (ESV) “Discipline your son, for there is hope; do not set your heart on putting him to death.”
One important principle my mother and father taught me was that their love was not conditional. Their love did not depend on my obedience. They loved me when I was obedient, and they loved me when I disobeyed. However, their responses of love were manifested in two different ways. Their love when I was obedient was to extend more privileges and blessings. This love encouraged me to continue to obey and to not cause them heartache or harm because of my rebellion. Their love when I was disobedient and rebellious was to discipline me. That discipline took many forms. The discipline matched the degree of rebellion or the nature of the sin. It was always short of death, the ultimate form of punishment. Death doesn’t discipline. There is no hope for change after death.
If I used foul or hurtful language, the punishment could be getting my mouth washed out. If I did not pick up my toys, it could lead to confiscation of the toys and an opportunity to earn them back. If I was deeply rebellious, it could include payment on my behind that would hurt momentarily but brought me to my senses. Their goal wasn’t to beat me into submission, but to teach me the reality that behaviors have consequences.
My parents recognized that training and disciplining Wayne was not an option, it is a commandment (Proverbs 22:6; Ephesians 6:4). Chastening was not an option. (Proverbs 23:13-14; 29:15). Chastening (the rod) produces pain to make it very clear that obedience to the “law” was not a suggestion. It is putting a boundary on speaking and behavior that reminded me who was the authority and what the requirements for joyful, peaceful and productive living were. When I was spanked it wasn’t a joyful or pleasant experience for me, nor was it for my parents. But it was loving and necessary. It a pattern that God employs as shown in Hebrews 12:5-9. God loves us, so he disciplines us. His love is far greater, so He disciplines in love. My parents understood that discipline and chastening was not intended to harm me but to help me. The fear I had of them was not terror, but it was respectful recognition of their authority and loving guidance.
I like what one blog says about this: “Disciplining a child is serious business. We are to do so with a godly set of standards and choices. These guide a father as he disciplines with a view to godliness – and as he reigns in his own anger and refrains from having discipline turn into abuse. But the real end in disciplining a child is to turn them away from their own selfish, fleshly tendencies. The process of making a child face correction and conviction for doing wrong is preparation for God’s future rebuke of their conduct. This one will come by God’s grace as they are convicted of their sin – and brought to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ as the answer for their sinfulness and need of salvation. In light of THAT day, discipline your child and make them face their selfishness and sinfulness – for your preparatory work will TRULY prevent them from death – ultimate death due to sin.”