Thursday Book Club: A Proverbs Driven Life: The "why" of discipline

UncategorizedJared KennedyComment
A Proverbs Driven Life: Timeless Wisdom for Your Words, Work, Wealth, and Relationships
Two chapters in Anthony Selvaggio's masterful work on the book of Proverbs are dedicated to parenting.  In my next two additions of the Thursday Book Club, I'll summarize and interact briefly with these two chapters. The first gives biblical evidence for the "why" of discipline--helping parents discover a biblical motivation for disciplining their children:

Anthony Selvaggio.  A Proverbs Driven Life: Timeless Wisdom for Your Words, Work, Wealth, and Relationships, "Chapter 11, Born Foolish, A Child's Need for Discipline." (Shepherd Press, 2008)

In the book of Proverbs, "discipline" has in view a range of activities which includes instruction, teaching, training, and correction.  "Stated very briefly, instruction and teaching involve imparting knowledge; training involves all sorts of coaching and preparation; and correction involves identifying errors and urging their removal" (170).  In this sense, the whole book of Proverbs is about education and the discipline of children.  And the book provides more than just biblical methods  It gives a biblical motivation for this discipline.  So, why discipline?

For Our Kids' Sake

He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.  Proverbs 13:24

"The book of Proverbs tells us that the primary motivation for disciplining our children is love" (172).  Since all of humanity including our children are naturally sinful and wicked, it is clear that children need discipline.  "Left entirely to themselves, children will follow harmful paths.  Unless they are given discipline, they will not gain discipline" (172).  Undisciplined children become undisciplined adults who become a danger to themselves and others.  Discipline can even save a child's soul from death (Proverbs 19:18; 23:13-14).  Surely it is no exaggeration to say that the more neglectful the parent, the more unloving; and the more loving the parent, the more that they intend to discipline with great care" (172-73).  "How easy it is to ignore a small child's act of sin and rebellion.  How simple to favor a short-term peace over the time and effort necessary to correct and teach.  But to build a habit of these compromises is to prefer yourself and your momentary comforts above the entire span of your child's life" (173).

For Our Neighbors' Sake

Better to meet a bear robbed of his cubs than a fool in his folly.  Proverbs 17:12

"When a foolish, undisciplined child grows into a foolish, undisciplined adult, the circle of trouble widens.  Such adults often go through life towing havoc behind them, and are incapable of influencing society in the direction of anything except shallowness and corruption... On the other hand, what greater service could a parent render to society than to raise children whose character will testify to the truth of the gospel for the rest of their lives?" (174). Seeking to raise godly children helps to fulfill the second great commandment--the command to love my neighbor as I love myself (Luke 10:27).

For Our Own Sake

Discipline your son and he will give you peace; he will bring delight to your soul.  Proverbs 29:17

Well-behaved children are a great reward, and godly children are a source of great joy to their parents.  "To see a child increasingly learn to control his or her sinful impulses and to become polite, kind, humble, and respectful is truly a delight to a parent's soul.  In addition, having obedient children also allows for a life that is--relatively speaking--more peaceful and orderly than if children are unruly and rebellious.  With less time needing to be spent on enforcing discipline in the home, more of a parent's time may be given to serving others" (175).  On the other hand, "a child left to himself disgraces his mother" (Proverbs 29:15).  "A wise parent, according to Proverbs, reaps the rewards of discipline and avoids the pain that comes from parental neglect" (176).

For the Glory and Pleasure of God

Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness.  Psalm 115:1

Ultimately, "godly children are a walking testimony of the truth of God's power through the gospel of Jesus Christ" (176).  "When children are well-disciplined, it's a win for everyone.  The children benefit by reinforcing good habits and growing in godly behavior.  Parents are blessed and their lives are made easier.  Society benefits because more mature, responsible individuals are joining its ranks.  And above all, God is glorified as the behavior of our children points to Christ's redeeming love" (177).