Proverbs 13:24, "He that
spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes."
This morning, the world in which we live despises consequence and responsibility for action and behaviour. Today's society has become so relativistic that "whatever works for me is best, and even if that is different from whatever works best for you, that is ok." The Bible will not uphold such humanistic reasoning, for it plainly declares what is good for us and what is evil for us due to the commands of a faithful God. Many people today publicly carry the modern waves of thinking with parenting to the point that good-minded individuals are led astray in the right path of bringing up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. While there are many things in Scriptures that are hard to be understood (by me anyway), there are other things that are so plain that it takes help to misunderstand what they are saying. The case of raising children is such a topic in Holy Writ, and while there is liberty to be found in some precise details of
their upbringing, there are certain precepts that cannot be circumvented without violating God's word.
There is an adage older than my existence that says "spare the rod, spoil the child." As with many adages that have the "semblance" of Scripture, most people, myself included, can mistakenly take them for Scripture itself. The Bible does not teach "spare the rod, spoil the child," but rather, its teaching goes deeper and challenges our thoughts to our very core. Should the Bible be teaching that sparing a rod meant spoiling a child, there would be many that might not think a spoiled child is such a bad circumstance. People like to dote on those that they love, and if a little "attitude" arises from this conduct, some (like a lot of my extended natural family) would be willing to have that small burden for the pleasure of doting upon the child. Yet, Solomon challenges our most basic compunction in regards to our children: how much we love them and show that we love them.
While some might not worry too much about a little spoiling as "they will grow out of it," Solomon rather says that withholding the chastening rod is for those that hate their children. As parents, the last thing we would desire is the behaviour of hate towards our little ones, and yet, Solomon plainly teaches that such is the case when we do not do as God has required us to do with our children. A lady once told me, "Well, I never had to spank my children. They just never needed it." Should that truly be the case, one must wonder how her children were better than God's children. Paul reiterates the thought in Hebrews 12 by firmly declaring that God chastens ALL His children. There is not a son that He chastens not, but He scourges every son whom He receiveth. If God must chasten all of His children, it stands to reason that no child of ours can do without it.
The reason that Solomon makes the bold point is that parents who love their children desire for them to be spared from the many and varied evils of life. We truly desire our children to be better prepared than we were, more firmly grounded on how to deal with life than we were, and able to prevent the heartaches that we experienced. The only way for a child to learn these things is to be faithfully taught what to do and not to do and rewarded accordingly. No child is faultless and thereby without need of correction. As the rod is meant to drive away foolishness from the child's heart (Proverbs 22:15), it behooves us to consider the manner in which we apply it.
Today's world frowns upon this Scriptural mandate, and many good-minded people are swallowing the modern dogma as they have seen children in today's society abused by their parents. Make no mistake, those actions are dreadful and heinous, but it is another travesty to not correct our children and have them unprepared to face the world. By never correcting a child in love, they believe that they are always right, and when the pains of the world come crashing in, they are ill-prepared to deal with the consequences of their actions. Therefore, if we are to correct them and instruct them more perfectly, coupled with the manifestation of the rod for transgressions, it stands to reason that they must know why they are being punished.
Children learn right from wrong (as we mentioned above) from consequences for action, but how corrected will they be if they are in the dark about why they received their consequences. Many today claim that God is chastening them for some "secret purpose" that they are currently unaware of. That, to me, makes as much sense as spanking a child without telling him why. Correction requires knowledge of the reproof. Reproof without correction is like most today spouting all the problems with no solutions. Correcting a child with the rod merits that they understand the purpose behind it and the actions that brought it.
Therefore, using our heavenly Father as the model for parenting, may we show forth love (as best we can) in the way that He does. He rewards His children for obedient behaviour (Hebrews 11:6), so should we. He chastens His children for disobedience (Hebrews 12:5-8), so should we. His actions come with the knowledge of reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness (II Timothy 3:16-17), so should ours. Let us not get caught up in the modern thinking of the relativistic world that believes everyone's different "right" is ok, and there is no "wrong." There is a right, and there is a wrong, as plainly set forth in God's word.
One final thought about parental correction of children is this: as with all of God's commands, these things seem harder to do than the other path. People's walk of faith and seeking to follow after righteousness brings a difficult and narrow road: strait gate. Things of the world brings a very easy road: broad way. Yet, God's way yields the easiest course in the end. People may look at their small children and think that they cannot bring themselves to chasten them with a rod, but consider what is easier: spanking a 6 year old or a 16 year old? The path seems hard in the beginning, but like looking at a funnel with the narrow end first, the pathway, once trodden, becomes easier as time progresses. As the children learn what is happening and most importantly why it is happening, the job of their correction will lighten in the years to come. But, the easy broad path is like staring at a funnel with the broad end first; the farther one progresses the tighter the squeeze and less maneuverability. Children not instructed early on, will reject the correction later for our inconsistent conduct. As my mother has so many times stated, "People today want to be their child's buddy early on, and when they realize that, 'Hey I need to do some parenting' it is too late as the rebellious teenager shrugs it off. But, if they are a parent early on in faithfulness and consistency, then they can be the friend that the teenager needs during those trying and tumultuous years." Therefore, let us be consistent and faithful parents, following the trodden path and model of our faithful and consistent Father in heaven.