In Psalm 1, Scripture gives us a clear picture of what a godly person should be, as well as the reward of this godliness.
Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper. (vv. 1–3)
Let’s meditate on these verses to truly understand their meaning and consider how they apply to parenting.
God says that you are blessed (highly favored) if you don’t listen to the world’s advice. If you are tempted to heed the “counsel of the ungodly,” consider that the world’s “experts” believe mankind evolved from monkeys. A little thought on our part should help us see why it’s wise not to listen to their ramblings, but rather listen to what the Creator has to say.
The fruit of the world’s godless advice is seen in the headlines of the daily news. Their counsel may sound right, but so often it proves to be wrong. For example, the world says that if you love your children, you will never physically discipline them. It says to seek alternatives rather than inflicting physical pain.
In the Book of Proverbs, written by the wisest man who ever lived, God’s Word gives the following counsel:
Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of correction will drive it far from him. (Proverbs 22:15)
The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother. (Proverbs 29:15)
It’s commonly said that he who spares the rod spoils the child, but God’s Word actually puts it more strongly:
He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly. (Proverbs 13:24, emphasis added)
So there’s your choice: listen to what seems right, or do what God says is right.
As parents, we should always do what the Word of God says to do, and often that’s not easy. Applying the rod of correction (often called “the board of education”) to “the seat of learning” takes resolution, as well as courage. But love will do it. The Bible says that in doing so you will save your children from hell (see Proverbs 23:13,14), and what parents want their children to go to hell? We should value the eternal welfare of our children, rather than our own temporal anxiety when it comes to applying discipline.
The contrast between God’s ways and the world’s ways were clearly demonstrated in an incident that occurred when our eldest son, Jacob, was six years old. We had a neighbor who would never even think of physically disciplining her six-year-old. When he refused to go to school, she would simply bribe him with candy.
One day Jacob said a word to his mother that he wasn’t supposed to say. I sent him to his room, and then followed him a moment later. I asked him if he knew that what he said was wrong. He admitted that he did. I then told him to bend over his bed, and resolutely gave him a swift swat across his rear with a small stick. He burst into tears. I went to get him a tissue, then left him for ten minutes. When I returned, I knelt down in front of him and we hugged. I then looked him in the eyes and said, “I want you to pray and ask God to forgive you, then go out to your mother and tell her that you are sorry.” He did just that.
A few minutes later I was helping Sue dry the dishes while Jacob sat at the table, thoughtfully holding a pencil and paper. Suddenly I felt a tug on my shirt. It was Jacob. He reached up and handed me a note. It read: “I love my dad.”
This made no sense to me. I had just caused him physical pain, yet even as a six-year-old he could discern that my motive was love.
In contrast, the neighbor’s six-year-old would point a toy gun at his mother and say, “I hate you, I hate you. I’m going to kill you!” Of course, he wasn’t disciplined for that either.
Tragically, the world refuses to use the rod of correction to drive “foolishness” from the hearts of their children. The foolishness therefore remains in their hearts as they grow, and many children bring their parents nothing but grief by ending up pregnant, in prison, with drug or alcohol problems, or with broken marriages.
Adapted from How to Bring Your Children to Christ, and Keep Them There.