This truth is easily understood for those with a high view of the Bible, as the reality that children need loving discipline is everywhere taught in it’s pages. Consider this sampling from the wisdom literature of the Bible concerning the value of disciplining children. “He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly” (Prov. 13:24). “Chasten your son while there is hope, And do not set your heart on his destruction” (Prov. 19:18). “The rod and rebuke give wisdom, But a child left to himself brings shame to his mother” (Prov. 29:15). “Correct your son, and he will give you rest; Yes, he will give delight to your soul” (Prov. 29:17). “Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6). This does not guarantee our children will never get off the narrow way, but the success rate is much higher when we apply the principles of Scripture over those of the philosophers. My personal experience corroborates the truthfulness of these passages.
My parents divorced when I was five years old, and I did not handle it well. Apparently, I cried myself to sleep for over a month. In her pity for me, my mother became very lax in my discipline. On the other side of town, my father also loosened his approach because we were only with him six, maybe eight days a month, so he did not want to spend the entire time meting out corporal punishment. By the time I was twelve years old, I had no respect for authority. I spent my teenage years doing whatever I wanted to do. There were attempts along the way to reel me back in, but it was too late. I spent most of my teenage years and into my twenties in trouble of varying degrees. It was a miserable decade or so for everyone, but no one suffered more than I did. I eventually made the connection between my poor decisions and the negative consequences they brought into my life. Exposure to the gospel finally turned the tide in a life headed for disaster.
It is no wonder the Scriptures speak so often of disciplining our children. When we become Christians, God disciplines us like the loving Father He is. In Hebrews 12:4-11, the writer encourages his readers to endure the hardships they were experiencing faithfully. The reason he gives is that God uses these difficulties to forge solid, Christian character. No one likes discipline. No one likes difficulties. No one likes pain and suffering. However, if we accept discipline with the right attitude, “…afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (Heb. 12:11). Left to ourselves we will not “…be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live” (Heb. 12:9). We must recognize the benevolent intention behind God’s discipline in our lives. It is the true sign of Him caring for us as His children (Heb. 12:5-8). Though we do not want God to give us a “pankin”, and though He would prefer not to as well, love demands it. It is a matter of life and death.