Monday, August 7, 2023


Geoffrey R. Kirkland

Proverbs 25:15 states that a soft answer breaks the bone.  Proverbs 15:1 affirms that a gentle answer turns away wrath. Proverbs 23:26 is the heart of every parent to the child as it says: “Give me your heart my son, and let your eyes delight in my ways.”  

These verses provide much-needed guidance for parents who must obey the Lord and discipline wayward children. Knowing that parents must spank but also knowing and learning how to to spank appropriately and with gospel-grace, parents have an important part as well in this discipline process.  Parents cannot be given to anger because the one who is quick-tempered exalts folly (Proverbs 14:29). Parents must discipline with a calm demeanor. Parents cannot go into the room to discipline the child while seething with rage or furious because of something that happened. It may behoove the parent to take a few minutes quietly to repent of his own selfish and sinful response, to confess his own anger, to come before the Lord humbly, and then approach the child calmly, lovingly, and caringly in the act of discipline. Yes, parental discipline can be both firm and tender at the same time. It can be compassionate and discipline must be consistent when sin has occurred.

What is the parent to do? What does the Bible say regarding guidelines for parents in the discipline act?

Parents must diligently bring up the children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. This means that the primary responsibility of maturing and growing and aiding the child in seeing & forsaking his sin rests upon the parent. With prayerful dependence on God the Spirit while utilizing the all powerful and heart-searching Word of God, the parent knows that he must diligently bring up the children in the ways of God. He cannot be passive nor can he just let things happen. A parent cannot think that the child will just figure it out. Worse, a parent cannot think that the child can just follow his heart and all will be well.

Furthermore, parents must recognize the need to both discipline (the rod) and verbally reprove the child (reproof). Both must occur as the child grows and ages. As the child ages and increases in the capacity to communicate and respond to the parent’s heart-probing questions, open ended questions should regularly engage the child’s heart.

Proverbs 18:4 says that words of a man’s mouth are like deep waters.  Furthermore, Proverbs 20:5 states that a plan in the heart of man is like deep water, but a man of understanding draws it out. Faithful parenting is not about external or behavioral change alone. Though parents wish to see behavior change, godly parents recognize that the root of behavior is the heart, the desires, the cravings, the longings. Wise parents will strive to ask questions that probe the heart so as to understand what the child wants so he can counsel the child appropriately so that the heart sin can be exposed and the gospel grace can be expounded.

Ultimately, parenting is an act of faith. It is a rescue mission. It is a marvelous opportunity for parents to obey God, love the children, evangelize their hearts, expose the sin biblically, and summon them to Christ through repentance and faith in God’s grace.  Parents do well to remember the words of Proverbs 14:26 which affirms that in the fear of the LORD there is strong confidence, and his children will have refuge.

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