Whoever spares the rod hates his son,
but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.
Understand the message here. It is that parents – because they love their children – will exercise appropriate discipline to correct them. They teach their children that sinful behavior brings punishment.
The message is not that parents must always use physical punishment for discipline.
Wise parents will choose the appropriate means depending upon the offending behavior and depending upon the nature of the child, as well as upon the nature of the parent. A parent who struggles with anger must be all the more careful not to let anger control how he disciplines. Discipline is necessary, but it must be coupled with wisdom and love to carry out God’s intentions.
Which leads to the next application: because God is wise and loves us, he disciplines us. He does not watch idly as we go astray, but will see that our sins bring correcting consequences. Many of the troubles we complain about are the results of our own sins. This does not mean that because I sin, God then causes a loved one to be ill. It means that God allows the natural consequences of sinful behavior to take place. As proverbs points out, if I choose to hang out with wicked friends, I will get into trouble. If I choose to lie and slander, it will turn on me.
By grace, God protects me from many consequences, the most important of which is my damnation. But by his grace, he lets many consequences fall on me so that I may turn from sin and to him through Christ.
© 2023 Tenth Presbyterian Church.
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Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By D. Marion Clark. © 2023 Tenth Presbyterian Church. Website: tenth.org