We’re talking this month about the difference between discipline and punishment, and how the words are often used interchangeably but are quite different.
To review, punishment seeks to control a person’s behavior by fear or retribution, or by inflicting pain to motivate change. Discipline, however, seeks to tie the unwanted behavior to a natural or logical consequence for that behavior. Discipline does not connect a child’s identity to their choices.
The Bible is not silent on the topic of disciplining children. Consider Proverbs 13:24: “He who withholds his rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him” (ESV). The word “discipline” in Hebrew means, “to correct,” or “to warn,” or “to instruct.”
In fact, God uses the word “discipline” in Hebrews 12:5–6 to describe God’s instruction or correction of His people. The writer of Hebrews says, “And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” John echoed this in the book of Revelation, saying, “Those whom I love, I rebuke and discipline” (Revelation 3:19 NIV).
These verses communicate two things. First, discipline, or instruction, is closely tied to love. We can’t separate discipline from love because discipline is proof of love. And second, when we discipline our children in love, we are acting in the image of God who disciplines us. Chip Ingram writes that “Any time you see God operating as a parent in the Bible, take note; if you are the kind of parent to your children that God is to His, you can be assured you are on target with parenting.”
Though it might be difficult to discipline your child sometimes, keep in mind the meaning of the word discipline: to correct and instruct. Correcting your child’s wrong behaving and instructing them in behavior that is good and righteous and pleasing to the Lord is one of the most loving things you can do as a parent.
Consider the honor of stewarding your child’s life for a short time and the eternal value of discipline. I hope the video for this month provides some ideas for helping your child to connect the whole of who they are and how they are created. I’m committed to walking with you as your parent!
Partnering with you,
Parenting Class Video
Please let me know if you have any questions, comments, suggestions or problems with these resources!
p.s. Watch for more help in part 2!