By Richie Thetford
I was raised in the church of Christ and through the years I have noticed in many cases that our children are not receiving the kind of discipline that God would want children to receive by the hands of their loving parents. As a result, children are being raised without any clear standard and often times the discipline they receive is inconsistent.
First of all, let us define discipline. Webster’s New World Dictionary defines discipline as: (1) Training that develops self-control, character or efficiency. (2) The result of such training; orderly conduct. (3) Submission to authority and control. (4) A particular system of rules or methods. (5) Treatment that corrects or punishes.
What is discipline? It means “the treatment suited to a disciple.” The word disciple basically means “a learner” such as “taught or trained one” (Young’s Analytical Concordance). Dr. Clyde Narramore, author of Understanding Your Children, has written, “A mother and father cannot avoid the role of a teacher. Parents teach by what they say, what they do and what they don’t do.” Grant Caldwell once wrote that the design of discipline is to produce obedience in purpose and fact. Parental authority should be:
(1) With firmness to make obedience advisable.
(2) With wisdom to make obedience natural.
(3) With consistency to make obedience uniform.
(4) With love to make obedience pleasant.
One must have a discipline (standard) before effective discipline can be administered. Look back at the definition of discipline. One needs to have a particular system of rules or methods (No. 4) before effective treatment can be administered that will correct or punish (No. 5). In other words, before we can have effective disciple in the home, there must be a standard to go by (Ps. 127:1). As parents, God must be our standard and our discipline should be to follow that standard! Without God’s standard, we’ll aimlessly strive to guide the footsteps of our beloved children. We need fathers like Joshua who will say: “… as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Josh. 24:15).
A home that does not use the Bible as its guide in ruling the home and raising the children will be a home with no direction and, as a result, the children will often times be punished under different rules and guidelines depending upon how the parents feel at the time. Notice the following poem entitled “A Home Without A Bible.”
A Home Without A Bible
“What is a home without a Bible?
Tis a home where day is night,
Starless night, for o’er life’s pathway
Heaven can shed no kindly light.
“What is home without a Bible?
Tis a home where daily bread
For the body is provided,
But the soul is never fed.
“What is home without a Bible?
Tis a family out at sea,
Compass lost and rudder broken,
Drifting, drifting, thoughtlessly.”
We should want to work hard to produce homes that will glorify God and save the world. Are you letting God set the discipline (the standard) in your home? Are God’s words being echoed by each of us fathers to all the members of our household? “And these words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up” (Deut 6:6-7). This is where the home environment is breaking down today. Fathers are not letting God dictate to them how the home should be governed. As a result, the children wonder “Who’s in charge of this home anyway, mom or dad?” We fathers have a God-given role and are responsible for how we operate our homes. We should diligently teach our children the ways of the Lord. Why? Because their soul and our soul depend upon it!
Some parents, when their child leaves home and no longer attends church, are often heard to say, “I just don’t understand, I trained them in the ways of the Lord.” But did they really? The proverb writer says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6). We can see from Deuteronomy 6:6-7 what kind of training one is to receive and I would say that most of us parents are not giving our children that kind of Bible training. Do we as parents really sit down and read the Bible with our children? Do we talk about how the Bible applies to their life during the day? Do we put time aside to help them with memory work and their Bible lessons? If not, is it any wonder our children eventually leave God’s service? We can also read other passages from Scripture concerning godly instruction in Proverbs 1:2-5; 2 Timothy 4:2; and Titus 2:15. What are you doing today to ensure that your child is getting God’s instruction? Are you, as head of the house, making sure God is taking priority and is setting the discipline in your home? Is the Lord ruling your home-life today?
Guardian of Truth XXXIX: 5 p. 20
March 2, 1995