A father is a teacher.
But what do we need to teach our children? We are looking at the book of Proverbs and noting some of the essential principles we must teach our children.
We’ve seen three so far.
Here’s a fourth:
We need to teach our children the consequence of choices.
Listen to the way wisdom speaks in the very first chapter.
“If you turn at my reproof, behold I will pour out my spirit to you; I will make my words known to you. Because I have called and you refused to listen, have stretched out my hand and no one has heeded, because you have ignored all my counsel, and would have none of my reproof, I also will laugh at your calamity.”
And what wisdom is teaching exactly?
She’s teaching us that a time comes when you suffer for the choices you make.
Now, as Christians, obviously, we are big into grace.
And so, you really want your children to know, no matter what, as long as they are alive, they can always come back to God, and He truly forgives them.
But at same time, they need to know, sin is painful.
If you jump off a cliff. What’s going to happen? You are going to get hurt. And that’s not just true physically, that’s also true morally and spiritually.
If you are lazy and you don’t study as a student in a class, that’s really hard for you, and you show up to take the exam and pray, you can’t expect that God’s going to give you all the answers. That’s not how the world works.
If you don’t ever read the Bible, and spend time with good friends, and you are always skipping church, and you are watching all these bad television shows, and listening to this terrible music, you shouldn’t be surprised if your relationship with God is terrible, and that you feel no passion for him.
It’s sad how often people blame God, for what’s going on in their lives, when if you look at their lives, it’s like what else, would you expect to happen?
Even animals are usually smart enough to figure out, if I do this, bad things will happen. If you have a dog, that’s how some people train them. I don’t know if it is the right way to train them, but some people train their dog, by giving them a little whack when they do something wrong, and you know what, dogs figure it out and yet, some people don’t seem to understand, that actions have consequences, and one reason some people have a hard time figuring that out, honestly is because their parents never taught them.
You need to teach your children actions have consequences.
One way you can teach them, is through your own personal testimony. When you’ve made bad choices in life, talk to your children about some of those bad choices, and what you experienced as a result.
Another way is by allowing them to experience some of the consequences of their sin. This takes wisdom as a parent. You love your children, and you never want them to experience any pain, but sometimes they chose that pain, and God intends that pain, to teach them a lesson, and so as a parent, you have to think, and decide, is this a time, when I need to step in and show grace, and rescue my children, because God does do that, even with us, but, also you should think, is this a time, when they need to experience the painful results of their own choices, so they don’t go and make those choices again.
And finally, besides, kind of passively stepping back and letting them experience consequences, as parents, there are times when we also need to actively, step up and discipline our children for their choices.
Now, discipline obviously is not a very popular subject. And sometimes for good reasons. So, let me say at the top. You never have the right to abuse your child, biblically.
You can’t sin to stop them from sinning.
And it’s important to understand, there’s mroe to discipline than physical discipline. Proverbs has lots of others ways of disciplining besides physical discipline. It’s not like, there is only one way, to respond every time your child does something wrong.
That would be foolish.
In fact, if you look at the approach the writer of Proverbs takes with his children, there’s encouraging the right behavior, there’s motivating, there’s warning, there’s instructing, there’s explaining about the negative consequences of sin, there’s exhorting, there’s rebuking. But then there are also times when it’s loving to help your children feel a little pain for sins they have committed, because sin is painful.
Part of why you discipline physically, is so your children will begin to associate sin with pain, because the reality is when they leave your house, sin will bring pain and if you don’t teach them when they are young that sin is painful. They will learn it when they grow up and it may be too late, which is why, physical discipline can be loving.
And again, I want to say loud and clear.
If it’s not love motivating you, you shouldn’t do it! I will tell you that. If you can’t in that moment honestly say, I am discipling my child because I love them, don’t do it. If it’s because you are annoyed, if it is because you are angry, if there’s anything else in there besides compassion and love, don’t do it. Wait. Until you can do it right.
But there are times when love will motivate you to discipline, which sounds funny to a lot of people, I know. Maybe because that’s the only way they have seen this done. In fact, some people would say the reason they aren’t punishing their children is because they love them but the reality is, the opposite because eventually they are going to get disciplined for their sin and it’s going to be worse than the discipline you might give them.
Look, if my son is habitually lazy, and I don’t teach him that laziness is painful, you know what’s going to happen when he gets older? He’s going to be lazy, and as a result, he may lose his job, not be able to provide for his family and that’s suffering.
I like the way Proverbs 19:18 puts it.
“Discipline your son, for there is hope; do not set your heart on putting him to death.”
If you just let your child go and go and go and go, apart from an absolutely shocking work of God, it’s not going to turn out good because, children aren’t born wise, they aren’t born, loving wisdom, they are born foolish, and loving folly, which makes it scary to be a parent, but Proverbs doesn’t let us lose hope, because it says, there is something we can do, and that’s to lovingly discipline our children.
And I stress, lovingly.
Because, there’s a lot of terrible discipline out there, that does damage, actually. Like when someone is hitting their children, because they are bothering them, or they are just yelling at them because they are mad, or, locking them out of the house, because they are annoying, that’s all terrible discipline, and that’s not what the Bible wants.
We are talking about disciplining your children because they are sinning and because, you love them, and want to help them stop. (*Maybe, can I just say, if you haven’t ever seen discipline done lovingly, don’t do it until you have. Get involved in a relationship with some godly parents, and spend some time at their home, and learn how to discipline lovingly.)
But you are going to have to learn, because Solomon’s saying, if you are going to be a good guide to your children, there may be times, when it involves more than just verbal instruction, you are going to have to help them learn that choices have consequences, either by stepping back and letting them experience the results of what they’ve done, or by stepping up, and applying an appropriate amount of physical pain, so they will stay away from sin, in the future.