I have warned him that judgment is coming upon his family forever, because his sons are blaspheming God and he hasn’t disciplined them. 1 Samuel 3:13 NLT
If I ever forgot what the rules were, all I had to do was look at the wall.
I was Mom and Dad’s first-born child, and I suppose Dad wanted to make sure he raised me right. At the time, he was also a little bit of a religious fundamentalist (read legalist). When I was nine years old, Dad decided to make sure I had no reason to forget my sonly rules or the consequences that would follow. So he took the time to type them up, frame them, and hang them on my bedroom wall.
I’ve often wished I still had the rules, just because it was something my dad made, but also so I could see what they were. The only one I remember was “Don’t sass your parents.” I don’t remember having a habit of doing that at my young age, but maybe I did or perhaps Dad just wanted to make sure I didn’t pick up the habit.
Along with the rules were the consequences. Since this was the day before technological gadgets, the consequences had to do with how many licks I’d get with the infamous black belt. (Dad removed the buckle, and he never licked me anywhere other than on my bottom. No abuse here.)
Somewhere along the way, he took down the rules. I guess he figured I had them memorized. No longer any need to display them. One thing Mom and Dad never forgot was the discipline. I didn’t enjoy it then, but I’m now glad they cared enough to do it—even though I may not have agreed with the rules or the consequences.
The priest Eli had forgotten the discipline—or never enacted it to begin with. His sons violated God’s commands in attending to the people’s sacrifices, but Eli looked the other way. When God called Samuel to replace Eli, He told Samuel the replacement was coming because Eli had failed to discipline his sons.
Some distinguish between punishment and discipline, saying punishment is for the offended while discipline is for the offender. Others propose punishment has no teaching element while discipline does. Rather than split hairs—because what some refer to as punishment might indeed be discipline and vice versa—suffice it to say God sends discipline into our lives when we go astray, and He expects society and others in authority to administer it also. Lack thereof leads to chaos and even anarchy.
But back to the verse. God expects parents to discipline their children. Discipline needs a teaching element and should be immediate. Delayed discipline rarely works. The methods will vary among children. What worked with my daughter had little effect on my son. What doesn’t work with my oldest grandson works with his younger brother.
The Bible shows God using a variety of disciplinary methods: death, sickness, famine, sorrow, depression, unfavorable circumstances. He even turned Lot’s wife into a pillar of salt.
Whatever method God used, He used with love. He always had the individual’s best interest at heart—and still does. We should too when disciplining our children and grandchildren.
Ask God for wisdom when it comes to the disciplinary methods you use.
Prayer: Father, help us to respond positively to Your discipline, and then give us wisdom to use the right type of discipline with those under our authority.
Tell us what forms of discipline have worked for you?
Tweetable: Are you forgetting the discipline?
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