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Punish Your Children

Do you remember that feeling of shame and guilt that you had when you were in trouble as a child?  As you anticipated punishment, there was a fearsome dread for what was about to happen to you.  When the time for punishment came, you had a burning in your cheeks as you were chastised for your wrongdoing.  The punishment itself was made all the more grievous by the embarrassment and disgrace of your offense.  You knew that you were guilty and deserving of the punishment.  You also knew that you never wanted to suffer that experience again.

Such experiences were not pleasant for you at the time, but they were vitally important.  They trained you to conduct yourself in the right manner so that you would not endure punishment again.  In Hebrews 12:11, the Scripture says, "All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness."  You may not have fully understood at the time, but the discipline you suffered as a child trained you for life.  The fruit of this discipline was not just for childhood, but it is even more so for adulthood and eternity.  Indeed, the punishment you received for the childhood offenses of getting in a fight, saying a dirty word, talking back to your parents, stealing a quarter, making fun of a disabled person, or anything else was foundational in developing you as a person.  That childhood training has taught you as an adult not to quarrel, use filthy language, rebel against authority, defraud your neighbor, or mock the downtrodden. These lessons are eternally valuable, for if you were guilty of such offenses, they would keep you from eternal life in the final judgment.  Remember, the Scriptures teach us, "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad" (2Cor. 5:10).  Your childhood training taught you to do good deeds.

Now, if you are a parent, it is your turn to pass these valuable experiences on to your children.  They need to be trained for this life and for the life to come, and it is your responsibility.  You are responsible for preparing your children for life, and the lessons you give them (or fail to give them) today will shape them even after you are dead and gone.  "Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it" (Prov. 22:6).  Fathers carry an even greater burden for their children's training, for the Scripture commands, "Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord" (Eph. 6:4).  This verse indicates the desired outcome of a child's punishment, which is not anger, bitterness, and resentment, but rather it is the child's God-directed discipline and instruction.  Truly, it is "the peaceful fruit of righteousness."

If you fail to punish your children when they need discipline, then you are harming them.  This fact is contrary to the worldly wisdom of our time, which tells us that love prohibits parents from punishing their children.  Yet the heavenly wisdom of the Scriptures says otherwise.  Consider a sample of this wisdom:

  • Proverbs 13:24 -- He who withholds      his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him diligently.
  • Proverbs 19:18 -- Discipline your      son while there is hope, and do not desire his death.
  • Proverbs 22:15 -- Foolishness is      bound up in the heart of a child; the rod of discipline will remove it far      from him.
  • Proverbs 23:13-14 -- 13Do      not hold back discipline from the child, although you strike him with the      rod, he will not die.  14You      shall strike him with the rod and rescue his soul from Sheol.
  • Proverbs 29:15 -- The rod and      reproof give wisdom, but a child who gets his own way brings shame to his      mother.
  • Proverbs 29:17 -- Correct your son,      and he will give you comfort; he will also delight your soul.

Any parent who says that he loves his child too much to punish him speaks a lie. In truth, he does not love his child enough.

Dear parent, ask yourself a few questions: When your child matures, how will he relate to the message of the final divine judgment if he has never stood in judgment in this life?  How can a person imagine the shame and guilt of standing before the Lord Jesus as a condemned sinner if he has never even experienced the shame and guilt of standing before his parents in punishment?  If the child always goes unpunished, then will he not be trained to think that there will never be punishment?  What then will he think of passages like Roman 2:8-9, which says that there will be wrath, indignation, tribulation, and distress for every soul of man who does evil?  It is not that a person can never understand these things without parental training, but such training is a great advantage that God intended for each person to have. Please, help your children understand the guilt, shame, embarrassment, and disgrace of sin.  Punish your children!

Stacey E. Durham



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