Corrective Discipline

He who withholds his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him diligently. (Proverbs 13:24)

Last time we’ve learned about Formative Discipline, that it is important to faithfully obey God’s mandate of training a child in the way that he should go and by raising him in the fear of the LORD. Last night, in our midweek service at Bella Vista, our pastor taught us about Corrective Discipline. So here are the things that I learned that we need to know about the most challenging and stressful task of parents, that is corrective discipline.

1. The most loving way to deal with a disobedient child is through discipline

We best express our love to our children when we discipline them. It is God’s way (Hebrews 12:11). Some parents think it is loving to withdraw discpline from a child. But it is not what the Scriptures say. The Proverbs tells us that we hate them when we do not discipline them (Proverbs 13:24). So those who avoid disciplining a child though they say that they love him has no genuine love for their him. And loving a child means disciplining them diligently. The KJV says ...chasteneth betimes… It has an implication of earnestness and consistency.

Spare the rod, spoil the child.

2. Children are not born neutral

In addition to what we learned on our previous blog on parenting that children are not born with obedient heart, it necessarily follows that they are not neutral. During the midweek service, when our pastor ask if a child is neutral, one teenager quickly answered that they are, and further said that “they do not know what is right or wrong”. This might be the belief of the people of this world and sadly, some professing Christians, but it is not the testimony of the Scriptures and parents can attest to that. They have conscience implanted by God (Romans 2:15). They know what is right and wrong.

Tedd Tripp from his book Shepherding a Child’s Heart comments:

"If children are born ethically and morally neutral, then they do not need correction; they need direction. They do not need discipline; they need instruction." 

We heartily agree to this. Children are not born neutral …foolishness is bound up in their hearts… (Proverbs 22:15), and our hearts are deceitful above all things and desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9). We know this, since we believe that the fall has radical effect in our hearts and mind. This is total depravity. Men love their sins. If they are neutral, they do not need discipline but a guidance. Yes we need to guide them throughout their lives as much as we can and that is formative discipline. But when they disobey, became manipulative and rebel, they need discipline above all.

“The child’s problem is not an information deficit, his problem is that he is a sinner.”

Ptr. Jeremiah Jangad

3. The biblical way to discipline a child is by using a rod

According to Tedd Tripp, the rod is a parental exercise, an act of faith, faithfulness, and responsibility.1 He further defines it as:

"...a parent, in faith toward God and faithfulness toward his or her children, undertaking the responsibility of careful timely, measured, and controlled use of physical punishment to underscore the importance of obeying God, thus rescuing the child from continuing in his foolishness until death." 

Since a child’s heart is full of folly, the rod of discipline plays a crucial role in driving that foolishness away. It is really an unfortunate sight to see parents giving up to what the child wants when he is acting up instead of disciplining him. The Bible clearly says, the rod of discipline drives foolishness away. Not toys, not food nor anything else.

Proverbs 23:13-14
Do not hold back discipline from the child, Although you strike him with the rod, he will not die. You shall strike him with the rod And rescue his soul from Sheol.

When we spank them, they must feel it. It should be not too light to spoil them and not too heavy to kill them, but enough that they may feel the pain. It is for their good. But make sure that we do not do it out of anger. Commenting on Proverbs 23:14 Albert Barnes writes, “You will not kill your son by scourging him, you may kill him by with holding the scourge.” We do this because we love them and we love their souls.

4. The problem is not the mind but the heart.

Mere talk is inefficient. We can sit with our child all day long and they can accurately tell us that they understand what they need to do and what things to avoid. But if we don’t deal with the heart, we fail in obeying the LORD’s mandate. Again we deal at the heart level.

Proverbs 29:15,17
The rod and reproof give wisdom, But a child who gets his own way brings shame to his mother.

Dealing with a disobedient child at the heart level requires a rod held by a loving hands and a compassionate heart. This is a command. It is the parent’s and our shame if we do not discipline them and if we let them live their own way. Pray before corrective discipline that it may be effective. We trust in the LORD’s work to engrave in their hearts true obedience. By nature, they are disobedient. So we should lead them to the LORD. through the rod of discipline. Our discipline must be gospel-oriented. As we deal with their sins, we implement the rod of discipline and we seal it with the gospel of Jesus Christ who alone can save their souls.

5. Corrective Discipline is the only way

If we wanted to raise our child with delight and to take comfort in rearing them, we need corrective discipline. The Bible says. “Correct your son, and he will give you comfort; He will also delight your soul” (Proverbs 29:17). When we obey God’s word it will yield to a fruitful relationship with our children. On the contrary, spoil your son and he will give you misery, and sorrow. he will also bring displeasure and pain to your soul.

It is painful, it may also hurt us at times. But we should not let our emotion rule our hearts to the point that we will withhold discipline. Well, the Scripture is transparent that it is not really easy, “All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful.” But again, this is the only way for “…those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness” (Hebrews 2:11).

Let the motive of glorifying God and a desire to obey Him reign our hearts when we discipline our children. May the LORD guide us in this difficult yet rewarding duty of corrective discipline.



1 The author strongly recommends Shepherding A Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp.

Published by Jeff Chavez

Sinner saved by grace

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