Anyone reading this who has a kid over the age of two has likely yelled at said child. Parenting is no easy task, it takes hard work, dedication and discipline. It’s the discipline part that we pretty much all need help with (including me who is writing this blog).
The Bible is very clear, “Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.” (Prov 13:24) Discipline is not something we do TO our children, it is something we do FOR them. Discipline (when done correctly) guides and steers our children on the right path. Of course when it is done incorrectly it can be just as bad or even worse than no discipline at all.
There is no shortage on helpful tips, guides and techniques on how to better discipline your children. Some of these are great and some are totally naive. Some work great with one kid and are totally useless on another. There is no ‘one solution fits all’ for this sort of thing. But there are guiding principal that will help our discipline be more effective (when we remember to use them).
Paul (a man without any recorded biological children of his own) saw every disciple as a child of his. And when they strayed, he had to discipline them… sometimes individually or sometimes as an entire group. The church at Corinth was a “child” of his that seems to stray very often and needed multiple corrections. We have two letters filled with those corrections and it is believed there was at least one more letter between the two.
But Paul’s first letter to this church maps out a model of discipline we should all learn from. Put simply, he starts with praise and thanksgiving first.
This is no simple praise statement, it is powerful. And it comes BEFORE any correction. “I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge— even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you— so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” (1 Cor 1:4-9)
Read that through a couple times. Look at the depth of his praise and adoration for the people of this church. A people he is about to spend sixteen chapters (mostly on correcting their behavior). But look at his love for them. He leads with his love first and then he offers his discipline.
How more willing to listen will the people of this church be after reading such an opening. Paul is making it clear that he loves them (even in their flawed state). And it is his love for them that leads to the correction. I realize that Paul had the luxury of time to consider his response, after all, he is responding over time via a letter, instead of in the heat of the moment. But that is another part of the tip. By taking that moment to pause and think of our response, and LEADING with our love first, how much more powerful will our discipline be?
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