[Day 2] The Goal of Parents’ Discipline toward Children
There are two wrong extremes in disciplining children. The first extreme is to think that the child’s nature is good, and it is better to let him develop freely without discipline; think that discipline will harm the child. The other extreme is discipline with an iron rod. These are two wrong extremes, both of which are wrong.
Why do children need discipline? First of all, because man is sinful, and all men are born in sin; men have sin while they are in their mother’s womb. Second, the nature of fallen men is rebellious. We need to know: first, we are sinful; second, we are rebellious. Therefore, parents must discipline their children, and children must accept being disciplined.
Parents are representatives of God before their children. Therefore, when parents are disciplining their children, they need to know that they are disciplining their children on behalf of God. God’s heart for His people is love, and His procedure is righteousness. Therefore, when parents represent God to discipline their children, they must be like God, with a loving heart and righteous procedures. There are two gifts parents give their children: one is love and the other is discipline. This is in perfect harmony with what God is; parents must love their children and discipline their children. Parents must help their children to establish a loving relationship with God by loving their children. By disciplining their children, parents help their children to know God’s righteous laws, to know His divine nature, and to know God Himself.
On the one hand, we, parents are representatives of God, but on the other hand, we are also fallen and sinful and need to be disciplined first. If we discipline their children according to our own concepts and fallen nature, the children will become like us. Because how the parents are, so will their children be. We also have a rebellious nature within, and often are not subject to God’s deputy authority. Therefore, we must first practice and learn to be disciplined by God and be submitted under His deputy authority.
There are two aspects of parents disciplining. On the negative aspect, it is to restrain and limit the development of children’s sinful nature, so the children will not commit sin or commit to a lesser degree. On the positive side, it is to let children know the rules, to practice and learn to follow the rules. In the end, it is to let the children know that God is the God of discipline. The parents set regulations for their children since they were young and teach them to follow regulations. Through obedience to the outward regulations, the regulation internalizes, and becomes an inward law, and issues in self-discipline.
Discipline is for the purpose of raising up children with proper characters and healthy personality. In the end, it is to let the children know God, to know God’s law, the law of the Spirit of life, and to obey the law of the Spirit of life, to live, move, and act according to the law of Spirit of life. The entire disciplinary process is also a process of recovery: from governmental rule to man’s own conscience, then from man’s conscience to God’s presence. This is to let children recover from lawlessness and unruly to self-rule, which is self-regulation (own conscience), then from self- regulation to be governed by God, it is to bring children before God and let God be their life and person.
Discipline also enables children to know how to live in God’s house. First of all, we must respect the old and love the young, such as opening the door for the elderly and giving them your seat. Second, being courteous and polite, such as saying thank you, sorry, you are welcome, etc. Third, take care of others during meals and love feasts. Fourth, stay quiet when adults are praying. Fifth, don’t run around or make noise when the adults are in a meeting. Sixth, at the end of the meeting, organize toys and clean up the room and meeting hall. Seventh, teach children to be considerate of others and shepherd others, they would rather give up their rights, or even suffer losses, in order to experience God’s self-sacrificing love. Those of us who know God, know God’s discipline, and know God’s will should train our children to be generous, give up our own rights, willing to suffer, and to share things with others; in this way, when children grow up, they can become generous, unselfish, considerate and useful vessel.
In other words, the ultimate goal of parents in disciplining their children is to let their children know the law of God, be sanctified according to God’s divine nature, and to be ruled by God. Therefore, discipline has a negative and a positive effect. The negative side is by dealing with the sinful nature, the children will sin less and learn obedience; the positive side is by knowing God’s law and knowing that God is a God of discipline, the children will exercise self-discipline and become a self-disciplined person. Ultimately, God disciplines us so that we can be partakers of His sanctification. In the end, we can partake of His divine nature, so that we can be ruled by Him and live out and express Him. This is the purpose of disciplining our children, and also the vision and goal of our disciplining.