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Exercise Appropriate Discipline with Your Children

He who withholds his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him diligently.
—Proverbs 13:24

Another resolve to make in order to parent without regrets is this: “I resolve to exercise appropriate discipline with my children.” We see this truth in the Old Testament priest Eli. Let’s look at four mistakes Eli made with his kids that hopefully we will avoid.

First of all, Eli did not begin early enough to discipline his kids. Eli did eventually rebuke his sons, but he waited until his sons were adults before he corrected them; and then it was too late. Proverbs 13:24 says, “He who withholds his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him diligently.” That word “diligently” means at the early dawn. We need to begin early the process of discipline.

Second, Eli was not consistent in his discipline. His sons were guilty of stealing portions of the sacrifices offered to the Lord, and they were engaged in sexual immorality. Interestingly, when Eli finally corrected them, he mentioned sexual immorality but not stealing from the Lord’s altar. Perhaps Eli didn’t correct his sons for that offense because he was also guilty of not giving to the Lord everything that belonged to Him? When we discipline our children, they have to see consistency in us as well.

Third, Eli was not observant of his children’s behavior. It is significant that Eli learned about his children’s sin from what others told him. First Samuel 2:22 says, “Now Eli was very old; and he heard all that his sons were doing to all Israel, and how they lay with the women who served at the doorway of the tent of meeting” (NASB). When Eli went to his sons, he said, “Why do you do such things, the evil things that I hear from all these people?” (v. 23). He told them, in essence, “You are embarrassing me.” Eli was more concerned with what people were saying about him than he was with his sons’ well-being. When your children misbehave or are caught in sin, don’t ever talk to them in terms of what they are doing to you or to the family reputation. The issue is their personal well-being and their relationship with God.

Fourth, and perhaps most tragically, Eli did not teach his children to fear God. The fact that Eli’s sons stole from the Lord’s altar shows they did not develop a healthy fear of God. The most important thing we can do as parents is to teach our children that God is real, He is watching, and He is judging. Proverbs 1:7 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (NASB). As a parent, the most important thing you can teach your child is to have a healthy, reverential fear of God. You teach that to your children not only by what you say but also by your example. That is a surefire prescription for parenting without regrets.

Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Living without Parenting Regrets” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2009.

Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.


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