by Kelly Waite
“If you refuse to discipline your children, it proves you don’t love them; if you love your children, you will be prompt to discipline them” (New Living Translation)
Raising children is just plain hard; especially when it comes to discipline. Today’s society has given too much power to the child and come so far away from what biblical standards are. King Solomon wrote in Proverbs 13:24, “If you refuse to discipline your children, it proves you don’t love them.”. That’s right. If we are falling short in the discipline area, we are not showing our children love – Godly love. We must love our children enough to take a stand against wrong behavior.
In 1968, Bill Milliken wrote a book called Tough Love. Since then, it has been a common word or phrase to use when we need to be tough, but loving at the same time. The most important word here is LOVE. Discipline should always be done out of love and in love. This type of tough love dates all the way back to the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve were the first children of God to inhabit the earth. They had so much freedom, joy and an amazing relationship with God. But, just like parents of today, God had rules for Adam and Eve and breaking those rules meant there were consequences. Do you think God said, “I already told you not to do that, now go sit in time out and don’t let it happen again”? I am sure Adam and Eve wished He had. However, for the sake of humanity, God had to demonstrate tough love. It was not because he didn’t love them; it was because he did.
Being a mother of 5 children ranging in age from 14 to 3, I have had my fair share of dealing with the challenges of tough love. I have not always demonstrated discipline in the ways I should have. Sometimes, it may have been too harsh and other times not harsh enough. Discipline and tough love take time, and sometimes I just didn’t make the time or put the effort into it that I should have. Honestly, sometimes it was just easier to give in. Unfortunately, in doing so, I am not loving my child with a Godly kind of love.
I am so thankful that I have a God that loves us with a “tough” kind of love when we need it. It keeps us on track, provides us with guidance, and pushes us in the direction we need to be going. It refines our character, teaches us endurance, and keeps us from hurting ourselves. God shows us this tough kind of love all throughout scripture: Genesis 3 when Adam and Eve were escorted out of the Garden of Eden, Genesis 6 and the destruction of mankind with The Flood, the judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 19. We can also see an example of this in the New Testament with the story of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5:1-11.
We must have the courage to demonstrate this kind of love in our lives. When we don’t, we are saying our children are not worth the time and effort. Yes, God’s tough love differs from ours, but we can learn a lot from the way He parents His children throughout scripture.
Lord, I pray we would have the courage to stand on biblical principles and be quick to discipline as it says in your word with a Godly kind of love. Give us guidance, wisdom, patience and endurance to withstand the battle that comes up against us when we are demonstrating tough love to our children. Most of all I thank you for demonstrating tough love to your children, for you know the way in which we should go. Amen