"So," they say, "nobody's perfect!"
But the Vinedresser won't buy that.
Given the opportunity, He will trim the unproductive suckers and shape the branches so each one will bask in Sonlight.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Enjoy Your Children's Behavior--You've Earned It

Psalm 6
1O Lord, rebuke me not in your anger, nor discipline me in your wrath.
          This is the prayer of every child, when he has done wrong and expects discipline. King David did not plead for no rebuke or discipline, but qualified his plea, such that his Father would not deal harshly with him.
        God's word repeatedly makes clear all parents bear the responsibility for correcting their children. Parents often use this first reference below as their "scriptural directive" to abuse children in the name of discipline:
Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him. (Pro 13:24 ESV)
Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him. (Pro 22:15 ESV)
Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you strike him with a rod, he will not die. (Pro 23:13 ESV)
For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives. (Heb 12:6 ESV)
For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light, and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life. (Pro 6:23 ESV)
But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world. (1Co 11:32 ESV)
It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? (Heb 12:7 ESV)
          But Psalm 6:1 expresses a godly man's desire for moderation in discipline. Several other Bible passages stress God's expectation for parents to discipline their children without anger:
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (Eph 6:4 ESV)
Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. (Rev 3:19 ESV)
For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. (Heb 12:11 ESV)
The iniquities of the wicked ensnare him, and he is held fast in the cords of his sin. He dies for lack of discipline, and because of his great folly he is led astray. (Pro 5:22-23 ESV)
          We must remember God's attitude toward expressions of anger and wrath among His children:
But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. (Col 3:8 ESV)
Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.(Eph 4:31 ESV)
          Admit it; too often what we pass off as discipline, is veiled revenge, making them pay for messing up. Our anger expresses attitudes like, "How dare you disgrace me by behaving stupidly?" "How many times do I have to clean up your mess?" or, "You're more trouble than you're worth!"
          God will not have that kind of self-centered attitude controlling our interactions with our children. His command is clear:
Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord." (Rom 12:19 ESV)
          Isn't it obvious from God's word that wrathful discipline is His exclusive responsibility? He gave us many examples of leaders who usurped that responsibility by mistreating their subordinates, and the righteous judgment that befell them. Dare we presume to execute ungodly discipline on those for whom God gave us the solemn responsibility to mold godly character? Dare we teach our children by example that it is acceptable, even desirable, to act out our unbridled anger whenever someone crosses us?
          We teach, not by pontificating at our children, but by our example when dealing with the stresses of everyday life—whether right or wrong. Ephesians 6:4 makes the danger clear, and bears repeating: Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. That means treat them with the same loving respect, grace and mercy that God has granted you. They will take your example to heart, apt students that they are. Before you know it, they are reacting to you in the same way you dealt with them.
          Enjoy your children's behavior, you've earned it.

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