Punishment is the infliction or imposition of a penalty as retribution for an offence. Punishment is what you get when you are guilty and your offence requires punishment. Punishment can also be used to manipulate and control, especially when punishment is given as an ultimatum.
God is our example in this area. He disciplines and encourages us to follow His example. Hebrews 12:5-11 says, “And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons:“My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; For whom the Lord loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives.”
Chasten is a bit of an old fashioned word for discipline. In the Bible, when it speaks of chastening it is referring to the Greek word ‘paideia’ and means tutorage and disciplinary correction as well as to instruct and nurture. These verses in Hebrews are rich with pearls of wisdom that we can incorporate into our mothering. Let’s take a look at some keys:
1. Do Not Despise the Chastening
If we want our children to take this on board then we need to first learn it ourselves. Too often we ignore or despise God chastening us. If we share our experiences with our children then they can watch and learn from our journey. Allowing your children to see God at work in your life will only help them learn, grow and value discipline. When God chastens you, share it with your children and show them how much you value that God is taking the time to help you become a better person. When they see that you do not despise it then perhaps they too will grow up valuing the discipline that you will need to give them from time to time.
2. Whom the Lord Loves He Chastens
Love should always the motivation of discipline. God’s motivation is love and when we discipline our children our motivation should be love too. It is too easy to lash out in anger but that is never the right way to do things. Some children do tend to really push your limits but it is essential that we do not discipline from a place of anger. As parents, we reflect God in many ways to our children, if they see us disciplining in anger they will grow up thinking that God is angry with them too. Take time to be intentional in loving discipline rather than angry in punishment.
3. If You Endure Chastening
Taking the time to discipline could mean that you need to give it time. Each time a child steps out of line you will need to gently nudge them back to where they need to be. Some children require more forceful discipline while others only need a kind word to get the back on track. The Bible tells us to endure chastening which suggest that the one giving the discipline needs to be consistent. Disciplining your children inconsistently will not only frustrate you but it will also frustrate your child. Make a firm decision about discipline and then enforce it even when it becomes an inconvenience to you. How can your child learn to endure chastening if there is nothing to endure? Once again, we are reflecting our father in heaven; our children need to learn from us so that they respond well when they need to receive discipline from God. There will come a day when you can no longer discipline your child. This is when they will need to have a healthy response to God’s chastising and we are responsible for preparing them for this. Disciplining your children not only moulds them while they are young but the way we discipline will set them up for the rest of their life.
4. No Chastening Seems To Be Joyful
You cannot make discipline fun! If you are trying to train your children by making everything fun then you are missing the point of discipline. It is mean to be painful – no pain, no gain! It’s not that you are meant to inflict pain because you are angry – that is not very nice. It is more about the fact that discipline is painful and will require some form of pain. Either physical pain as the Bible clearly says in Proverbs 13:24, “He who spares his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him promptly.” A smack on the bottom with a wooden spoon is a very acceptable form of punishment, in fact it is strong recommended in the Bible as you can see. At times the pain is more emotional, our children are humbled and ashamed when they are wrong and being exposed is painful to their pride. My four year old daughter will burst into tears if I just tell her that her action was naughty. Smacks are seldom necessary for her as she desperately wants to please her parents and not doing so is very painful for her.
5. Yields The Peaceable Fruit Of Righteousness
Discipline is an investment which yields a return. Proverbs 19:18 says, “Chasten your son while there is hope, and do not set your heart on his destruction.” What this means as that a time will come when it is too late. You will not have the opportunity to discipline your child forever and so you need to do while you can. Discipline should start from a very young age and not be left to later when it is too late. There is a another little gem in that verse too where it says do not set your heart on his destruction. Don’t be against your child when you discipline but be for them. Discipline from the positive perspective and not from a negative point of view. If you keep believing in them and point out who they can become then there will be a harvest of righteousness produced from their lives.
Proverbs 29:15-17 says, “The rod and rebuke give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother. When the wicked are multiplied, transgression increases; but the righteous will see their fall. Correct your son, and he will give you rest; Yes, he will give delight to your soul.” If you want a harvest of righteousness for your child and peace yourself, take time to discipline your child. Teach them the fear of the Lord. Draw the line consistently, in love but with firmness.