Biblical Discipleship in Parenting – Pt 1

(Proverbs 22:6; Ephesians 6:4) This will not be easy for most parents in today’s culture, including most in modern church culture. My prayer is that we look to God and His Word and apply His Truth in Grace and Love as we parent and disciple our children for His Kingdom and Glory.

Loving Discipline & Punishment

Parenting is ultimately about discipling your children to know Christ as their Savior and Lord and to grow in Him. Discipleship includes teaching, training, Godly discipline, and loving punishment in line with Biblical values, training your children in righteousness according to God’s Word.

Biblical Discipline is not punishment as we are to desire discipline (Proverbs 12:1).  Disciplines are actually the boundaries, guidelines, and foundations on which you establish or build your life, marriage, family, parenting (all relationships for that matter): Love, Wisdom, Virtue, Purity, Integrity, Patience, Self-control, and many more all based on the foundation of God’s Word–Absolute Truth. Biblical Punishment is actually what occurs when we fail to stay ‘inside’ or intentionally move ‘outside’ the disciplines that have been established in order to guide someone back within those truths where they can most fully and freely grow–Deuteronomy 6:4-9; Proverbs 22:6; Ephesians 6:1-4; Hebrews 12:1-15.

Are you studying and applying God’s loving disciplines and, as needed, loving punishment to guide, train and disciple your children in The Lord? This is not easy but it is what God knows we need and it’s worth it!

Keys to Biblical (& Healthy) Discipline & Punishment (Hebrews 12:5-11)

The following is to help you establish disciplines and guidelines and administer loving punishment as needed according to God’s Word and our Heavenly Father’s example found in Hebrews 12:5-6, quoting Proverbs 3:11-12. The Greek word “paideia” and “paideuo” used in these verses, respectively, is most often translated as “discipline” but here it actually means, “to chastise.” Remember this is God so it is always done in love to correct us and draw us to Him and we are wise to follow His example in our parenting.

Guidelines for Biblical Disciplines and Punishment:

1) Discipline and punishment are both part of God’s Truth and Love toward us–His Word must be the source in establishing discipline and administering punishment.

2) Discipline is modeled first in our lives before applied in others–lessons are caught more than taught.

3) Be clear and consistent–both discipline and punishment should be clearly communicated and consistently applied in your life and parenting.

4) Three guidelines for punishment:

     A) Disrespect–ignorant or initial willfulness;

     B) Defiance–clear, continued rebellion toward your authority;

     C) Danger–to avoid immediate harm and teach lessons that protect from danger.

5) Never punish in anger or from pride–be sure to check your own motives and selfishness whenever applying punishment with your children–very difficult in tense and embarrassing moments (for us as parents), but punishment must be applied in Love.

6) Punishment and reward – Punishment fits the crime; give opportunities to reward for good behavior and heart as well as for good response to punishment (train the heart). Be sure to connect both punishment and reward with character rather than just accomplishment or performance.

7) Involve your children – allow them to help establish foundations and guidelines based on God’s Word as you craft and communicate disciplines and punishment. Allow them to define their own punishment to the extent they understand the heart issues and can apply it justly. You keep the final say!

I hope these will help you as you train up your children in The Lord. As we continue with this crucially important topic let’s look at what it takes to pass on a Godly generational legacy for His Glory!

This is not only a difficult topic for us to understand it is hard to receive as the culture has twisted this, as they do all things of the Lord and His Word, so that we have conformed in most things to the way of the world rather than being transformed by God’s Word and Spirit (Romans 12:2).

Earlier we looked at the Greek word that was interpreted as discipline for guiding and for chastising, both coming from the same root word. However, the writer of Hebrews, under the inspiration of The Holy Spirit uses the following Greek word, mastigoō, one time in Hebrews 12:6 and it is translated, “to scourge” or “to whip”… all those God receives as His child. Why? Because He loves to punish us? Absolutely not, as that makes no sense based on the rest of the story that Christ gave us culminating in The Cross. He then states in verse 8 that if we do not receive the correction, implying the punishment from v. 6, then we are actually not His children.

I don’t know about you but I think that you, as do I, want to be His child and I want the same for my children.  This means He will lovingly punish us…OUCH!

This is certainly not to advocate for child abuse of any kind, but it is to help us understand that punishment is part of God’s love and He knows that we will need it as sinful people in a fallen world. I say often, “God is willing to place the 1,000 volt fence before the 1,000 foot cliff. The shock may hurt but you have the chance to learn from it rather than walk off the cliff.”

Be firm and loving, just as God is, as you apply discipline and punishment with your children for there is great reward (see Hebrews 12:10-11)!

In closing this article I want to share a personal prayer and outcome that my wife, Ami, and I experienced as we applied these principles of God’s loving discipline and punishment with our children.

As we were raising our children our prayer and desire was for them to know all of God’s love, knowing that every bit of it, even the tough and sometimes painful parts, were for their good. Knowing that God is always true to His Word and that as His child, they would at some point receive His punishment out of His love, our prayer was that instead of them running from it and rebelling against Him we asked that they would see and recognize His love, even and especially in the punishment, and run toward Him. It’s easy to run to Him when He is giving us the pleasant things.  We wanted to be as faithful, firm, gentle and loving as we could by the indwelling presence of The Holy Spirit in our lives as parents.

As they have faced their own consequences and His loving, yet tough, punishment we have seen that prayer come to pass and are so excited about how He has drawn them to Him.  In so doing, He has grown them in Christ! What a faithful answer to our prayer that instead of running from God…they ran to Him! Praise The Lord!

Love and Lordship…Food for Thought – In God’s Love, because He knows what is best for us in every situation, He has clearly included His loving punishment for our good.  Accept it and turn to Him rather than running further away when He applies this to your life as His true son or daughter. 

Love and Lordship…Action Item(s)

  1. Read the Scriptures in this article. Ask The Holy Spirit to show you how you have interpreted and applied discipline/punishment in your children’s lives.
  2. Accept and apply discipline with yourself and your children as foundations, boundaries and guidelines by which we live our lives most fully and freely.
  3. Begin to accept punishment as part of God’s Love and apply it in love.

Ask for forgiveness where you have punished your children in anger or pride and strive to do better in the power of The Holy Spirit.