Avoid pain, avoid peace

Posted on July 19, 2015 · Posted in Discipline, Gospel

Modern culture has an aversion to pain. But if avoiding pain becomes a parent’s bottom line, peace and hope are lost!

Consider Hebrews 12:11:

For the moment all discipline seems
painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of
righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

There are three important parts to this verse.

First, discipline is painful rather than pleasant. Discipline is meant to highlight the unpleasantness of sin. Discipline, must not be confused with retribution. A child ought to be motivated to avoid discipline. It is important that parents respond with pleasant, even words in the course of discipline. This is because it is pleasant words, and not anger, that promotes instruction (Proverbs 16:20-24).

Second, the fruit of discipline is not always seen immediately. As the second part of this verse indicates, it is later on that the fruit of righteousness is yielded. This is where faith comes into play. As with any faith-based action, the assurance comes from things that are not seen (Hebrews 11:1). So, there may not be immediate confirmation that the discipline “worked.” Parents should not discipline simply to manipulate kids into better behavior. Christian parents are to discipline in faith, out of love for God, as God has directed so that God is honored.

Third, the peaceful fruit of righteousness comes to those who have been trained by it. The word for training here is the word used for gymnastics training. Thus, the training is detailed and rigorous. This concept removes the element of retribution from discipline. Biblical discipline is not aimed at getting even, but at pointing children to Christ and their need of him.

Here is one scenario of what this would look like:
Daniel has been instructed by his parents that biblical obedience is doing exactly what you are told, right away, and with a good attitude. When Daniel refuses to respond this his mother says the following:

“Daniel, I know that you can’t obey in your own strength. But Christ is able to help those who repent of their sin and seek God for a new heart that does want to obey. And this is why Mommy must discipline you. I pray that God will work in your heart. I pray that the unpleasantness of discipline will help you so that the peaceful fruit of righteousness will grow in you. But God is clear, Mom and Dad are to raise you the Lord’s discipline and instruction. And God’s Word is clear about how quickly you must obey. Let’s ask God for his help right now.”

God is in control, not the child and not the parent. The key component in this scenario is faith. Mom disciplines because her confidence lies in things that are unseen. She knows that only God can bring about the needed changes in her son. She is content to trust God that he will honor her faith in his time and seek the peaceful fruit of righteousness in the life of her son.

Shepherding a Child's Heart DVD 2014

Jay Younts
Jay Younts is the Shepherd Press blogger. He is the author of Everyday Talk and other materials on parenting. He has been teaching and speaking on parenting issues for 30 years. Jay and his wife, Ruth, live in Fountain Inn, South Carolina. He serves as a ruling elder at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Moore, South Carolina. He and Ruth have five adult children.