Any institution needs discipline. Without it, an entity is unable to function properly. The home is the foundation of any society and, as such, needs discipline above all other institutions. If the discipline breaks down in the home, chaos and ruin will soon follow in society at large.
The Bible discusses discipline in many different settings including the home. Because of its vital role in the world and the church, the home is the focus of much of the teaching of the Bible. The majority of the discipline discussed is instructional, while there is also a healthy amount of corrective discipline as well.
Instructional discipline is the chief and preferred route to take. God uses this first with His children as He tells them what He expects and the consequences of not following His will. This is manifest in the Old Testament as He dealt with the children of Israel. He gave them the law and the consequences of disobeying that law.
God also gives parents instructions in instructing their children. Under the Law of Moses He said, “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children…” (Deut. 6:6, 7). He said to do this “when you sit,” “when you walk,” “when you lie down,” and “when you rise up.” The Word of the Lord needed to be where the children would see it on a regular basis (Deut. 6:8, 9). If this was so under the Old Testament, should we consider it as a good way to instruct our children in the ways of Christ?
The book of Proverbs is devoted to teaching young people. “To give prudence to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion…My son, hear the instruction of your father, and do not forsake the law of your mother…” (Prov. 1:4, 8). The truisms and teachings of Proverbs will do any young person (or old) a world of good. Many trouble and heartaches in life can be avoided if the wise sayings are heeded. Happiness can be multiplied.
Ecclesiastes also hits the nail on the head for young people. The meaning of life is explored and the conclusion is to live it for God (Ecc. 12:13, 14). Remember the words:
Rejoice, O young man, in your youth, And let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth; Walk in the ways of your heart, And in the sight of your eyes; But know that for all these God will bring you into judgment. Therefore remove sorrow from your heart, And put away evil from your flesh, For childhood and youth are vanity. Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, Before the difficult days come, And the years draw near when you say, “I have no pleasure in them” (Ecc. 11:9-12:1).
In the New Testament fathers are charged with raising their children in the ways of the Lord (Eph. 6:4). This includes instructing them in righteousness: the Savior, salvation, the church, worship, creation, etc. Surely, we also realize parents are to raise their children to be decent citizens and learn how to take care of themselves. Young men need to learn to work (1 Thes. 4:11, 12). Young women need to learn to take care of the house (Titus 2:4, 5). Warning: Don’t get a feminist knee-jerk reaction to this. It is what the Bible teaches and what makes for a happy life. Can women work outside the home, yes, but not to the neglect of their other duties. Can men work in the home, yes, but not to the neglect of their other duties (1 Tim. 5:8). If the man stays at home with the children and cleans the house, while not earning a living, he is neglecting his God-given duty. The wife who is working and neglecting the house and/or children is in sin as well.
We can see many problems in society and among Christians when the fathers (and mothers) fail to instruct their children in biblical truth. The children are unwieldy, unhappy, and a nuisance to others. Their homes often end up broken because they were not taught properly while growing up.
Now we come to the other kind of discipline; corrective. Is there authority in the New Testament for corrective discipline? Yes. The Holy Spirit revealed, “And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4). The word “training” is from the Greek word “paideia.” Its meaning is “1. the whole of training and education of children (which relates to cultivation of mind and morals, and employs….punishment)…chastisement” (Joseph Henry Thayer, Greek-English Lexicon of The New Testament). This particular word is found in five other verses in the New Testament. In 2 Timothy 3:16, it is translated “instruction.” In Hebrews 12:5, 7, 8, 11, it is either “chastening” or “chastisement.”
Here is the fact of the matter, parents have authority from God to both instruct and correct their children. The wise man said, “He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly” (Prov. 13:24). “The rod and rebuke give wisdom, But a child left to himself brings shame to his mother” (Prov. 29:15). Children understand and benefit from corrective discipline when it is properly applied, being reasonable and consistent.
If parents would spend more time on instructional discipline, they would have to spend less time on corrective discipline. Too, when the time and effort are put in up front, when the child is in the home, then there will be many years of peace and pleasure from a child that becomes a young adult that becomes a parent—this is not to mention the best of all, to become a Christian. What good parent doesn’t want this? Then why neglect that which is needed to bring it about?
Let us have homes of discipline. They make for happy, healthy homes that are pleasing to the Lord and a blessing to society.