Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the LORD your God gives you (Exodus 20:12).
The midweek service at Bella Vista last night was about the Fifth commandment. We know that the fifth commandment is a command to children. But it is also given to awake us all to the fact that authority is given to parents. Particularly, about parents’ responsibility to raise children in the fear of the LORD. Here are the lessons that I learned that parents (and future parents) like you and me must take heed in order to be faithful to the LORD’s serious charge.
1. Authority were given to the parents not to their children.
According to apostle Paul, this is the only command with a promise affixed to it (Eph 6:1-3). The fifth commandment is about God-given authority. Parents are given authority, not the children. Dad and mom have the authority not the elder brother or the elder sister over the house. We live in a day where kids are the boss and parents are swayed by what the kids want. We must understand that our children are not totally independent. The parents are given a mandate to form the child’s mind and heart as they grow up. This is formative discipline.
2. Parents do not give sufficient and valuable time to form their children’s hearts and minds.
“When does a father talk to a child?” This is a question that breeds concerning reality. This is the first problem that we are facing. There is a lack of communication in the family. No affection. No formation of hearts and the father only enters the scene when a child commits mistake or did something wrong. This must not be the case, but it is sad to know that this is the case even for Christian homes.
When we discipline our children, we deal with them at the heart level, God-centered, scripture-instructed and love-motivated.Tweet
3. Children are not born with obedient hearts.
“Foolishness is bound in the child’s heart” (Pr. 22:15) and “the wicked are estranged from the womb; these who speak lies go astray from birth” (Ps. 58:3). Obedience is not the way of the children. Rebellion is. The scriptures testify to this reality. We should not deceive ourselves that children will obey us wholeheartedly. We must teach them and expose their sinful hearts. It is absolutely necessary to shape our children’s hearts and minds. If we don’t, the world, television, Facebook, YouTube and their friends will. When it happens, we will have lots of toiling and depressing work to do. The parents play a vital role in shaping the lives of their children.
The potter shapes the clay, not the other way around. The parents should shape the children, not the other way around. Children will do their best to manipulate the parents to do what they want. That’s why in Proverbs 22:6, parents are commanded to “train up a child in the way that he should go. and when he is old he will not depart from it.” It says “should” not “wants to”.
4. Parents must model obedience for the children to obey.
Deuteronomy 6:6-7 is instructive in telling us that we cannot impart what we do not have. Our lives should demonstrate the kind of obedience that we want our children to emulate. It should be first in our hearts, so we can teach them diligently. The gospel must be planted in our hearts so we can plant it in them. It may be planned or unplanned. It can be done while washing the dishes and cleaning the house. It can be an unscripted response to situations and instructions. We should interact with our kids, and as we live with them on a regular basis, the savor of obedient heart should flash before their eyes. It is more on influence than unloving and self-centered authority. For our children to obey us, we must first obey the LORD.
5. Parents should know that children know.
Another problem that lies before us is that we assume that our children know what to do in almost every situations. We must constantly, consistently and patiently teach them. We need to know that they know how to do things right, how to act in every situations aright and how to live before God’s sight.
6. Our children need the gospel as much as we do.
We wanted to bring our children to the Lord and parents are accountable to it. Most importantly, teach them that they need a Savior, that they cannot save themselves, they need God’s mercy. The family is a home of sinners. They need to hear the glorious message of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We do not want to raise a child who only knows how to obey us but do not know why and how they can obey us in a way that pleases the LORD.
Tedd Tripp in his book Shepherding a Child’s Heart aptly says,
"The central focus of parenting is the gospel. You need to direct not simply the behavior of your children, but the attitudes of their hearts... The grace of empowerment to live is found in the gospel."
From the heart springs the issues of life (Proverbs 4:23). So when we discipline our children, the goal is internal transformation, we deal with them at the heart level: God-centered, scripture-instructed and love-motivated. But we cannot do it on our own, so we must trust in God’s work of transforming grace as we faithfully do our parental responsibility.
How do you as a parent obey this command from the LORD?
SOLI DEO GLORIA!
3 thoughts on “Formative Discipline”
Christian parents need to hear this, I myself included.