June 18 I Monday
“Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.” —Colossians 3:20
There has been a growing push in recent years by some parents and child psychologists to slacken the discipline of children. They claim it is better for children to be given full freedom of expression and to decide for themselves what is right and good. Some parents very seldom say “no” to their kids, leaving them with few, if any, rules or expectations. While some of these children may turn out alright, many of them will become self-absorbed and arrogant, thinking the world revolves around them.
When we cease teaching our children to obey, we dismiss what Scripture says about parenthood. Proverbs 22:6 says, “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” Proverbs 29:15, “A rod and a reprimand impart wisdom, but a child left undisciplined disgraces its mother.” Hebrews 12:9, 11, “Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it…. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”
Children crave structure, routine, direction and discipline, and they struggle to know how to act when these things are missing. They need boundaries that are reasonable and enforceable, and they need to know there are consequences when they overstep those boundaries. Of course, our children will test those boundaries right to the limits, but they have to learn that “no” means “no”, which will instill in them a sense of security.
Author and speaker Elisabeth Elliot has said that parents used to want their children to be good, but now they want their children to be happy. She said children who are raised to be good usually end up happy because they are secure, knowing who and what they are supposed to be. Happiness for our children is a consequence of being good. We do not go searching for it, but it comes as God directs their paths.
Teaching children to obey is not merely about the convenience of having well-behaved children. It also develops their spiritual lives. The night before His crucifixion, Jesus told His disciples, “Anyone who loves Me will obey My teaching” (John 14:23). Many children will struggle to bring their lives under the lordship of Christ, but setting and enforcing boundaries while they are young will instill in them humility and obedience, two essential ingredients in a relationship with God. In Him alone will they find lasting peace and contentment, and the One in whom morality and goodness is defined.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, Your Word clearly reveals Your heart for children. Inspire parents and educators to teach obedience to those in their charge so we raise a generation that desires to know and please You.