Discipline begins with instruction.
That was lesson one. To properly carry out the work of disciplining our children we must first become their teachers. As God taught Adam in the garden concerning the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, we too must instruct our children.
I think one of the hardest things to do as a parent is to discipline your child. As a parent, I really don't like putting restrictions or punishment on the kids. But carrying out the discipline to it's fullest extent is super important. That means that whether you like it or not, discipline must include consequences.
Let's consider once again, our passage from Genesis 2:16 & 17.
16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”
(Gen. 2:16-17 esv)
Notice what God does here. First God gives the man the teaching, 'do eat from this particular tree.' Then he follows up with the consequence, '...for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.' (Harsh, right?)
As we talk to our kids, one of the things I always come back to is the fact that everything we do comes with a consequence. If we do right, there are good consequences. If we do wrong, there are bad consequences. I think of what God says to Cain in Genesis 4:7, "7 If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.” (Gen. 4:7 esv) When I read this, I see God counseling Cain to consider his actions and what he is about to do.
Here's a scenario. Child 'A' walks past Child 'B'. Child 'B' thinks he'll be funny and put his foot out to trip Child 'A'. After falling on his face, Child 'A' doesn't think it was so funny. Child 'A' then chooses to retaliate. Now child 'B' is crying, and both come running to you for justice.
Now, had Child 'A' just walked away, Child 'B' would be the only one in the wrong. But because Child 'A' chose to retaliate leaving his sibling in tears, Child 'A' gets the corrective attention and the speech. "You had a choice to make." I say, "you could have walked away and come and told me what happened and I would have handled your sibling. But because YOU CHOSE to act on your own, you will now have to deal with the consequences of your actions." (And because it involved a physical act, the consequences are bit more severe.)
Here's my point. Along with teaching our children what we expect, we must also teach them what the consequence will be if they so choose to go down that path. For the man and the woman in the Garden of Eden, the consequence of their actions was death. And when God came to deal with the man and the woman, he carried out the corrective discipline. Together they were cast from God's presence in the garden, and left to manage without him. Something similar occurs with Cain. He chose to follow the path of sin, and God handed down the consequences accordingly.
You see, God always follows through with his children. As he teaches us the expectations he has for us, there is always the warning of what will happen if and when we disobey. And while there is always forgiveness, there is still the realities of our consequences.
As parents, we must think about discipline as both a BEFORE and an AFTER process. Before means we are teaching our kids what we expect and what will happen if there is disobedience. After means that we follow up with the said consequences. And while it may pain us to see our kids dealing with the consequences, we have to remember that they chose to be disobedient. Hopefully you consistency in loving them and being firm in your discipline will help to direct them into future obedience.
We'll talk more about Discipline and the Bible in our next post.
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If you missed the earlier 2 posts, you can find them by clicking on the links below!
Discipline and the Bible - Part 1 & Discipline and the Bible- Part 2...
- the Higham Family
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