Spoiled Children Are Like Spoiled Food – They Leave A Bad Taste In Your Mouth
Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.
Everyone seems to have a word of wisdom. Time-honored advice that has worked for them, and others who passed it on to them. Wisdom is the practical application of knowledge for the betterment of mankind. And the world, the flesh, and the devil seem to constantly pour out their versions of wisdom.
With children, wisdom from the world and the devil appears to be hands-off parenting. “Be their friend; give their opinions, no matter how bizarre, the same weight as your own, and let them guide the way; after all, they are the future!”
The world does so at their own peril. For children learn by observing and doing what pleases them. The implied morality that human beings supposedly have – that we are inherently good – is believed and embraced. And any correction to the natural learning cycle of children is no longer the imparting of wisdom, but rather considered an impediment and abuse. After all, should not the child be able to decide for itself how it should think, act, and respond to the world?
The first fallacy of hands-off child-raising is that children, by their very “innocent nature”, implicitly know love and how to love. But observe any child left to his/her own devices, and watch just how manipulative, conniving, scheming, self-centered, self-absorbed the child will become. Rather than Timmy on the classic “Lassie” TV show, the child instead begins to resemble Damian in “The Omen“.
Train up a child in the way he should go;
even when he is old he will not depart from it.
Children need training. They need to both be trained through instruction and correction, as well as having a solid example of behavior in the form of character that is congruent with what is being said. Children are natural hypocrisy detectors. Their “radar” is tuned to check what they hear against what they observe.
Love does not come naturally. It makes no sense to love anyone else if there is no direct benefit to yourself. Self-preservation and self-fulfillment are the goals of the untrained, undisciplined mind. Even in adulthood, the world behaves in the same way:
- Get as much of the pie as you can, because no one will help you out
- Be concerned with yourself first and everyone else later (if it is convenient for you and your plans)
- The strong should rule over the weak
Godly love does none of these things. Godly (agape) love is
- Does not envy
- Does not boast
- Is not proud
- Is not rude
- Does not insist on its own way
- Does not rejoice at wrongdoing
- Rejoices with the Truth
- Bears all things
- Believes all things
- Hopes all things
- Endures all things
- Doesn’t fail
Children, left to their own devices, will not embrace this type of character. They must be taught character. The first part of learning is accepting the correct role of authority in one’s life
Correction helps us to accept the rightful authority over our lives.
An old friend of mine had a nephew whose father was wild. In a stunning, emotional scene where the child’s mother was allowing the father to see his son one last time (she had won full parental responsibility and the court ruled that the father would no longer have any rights [or financial obligations] towards the child), the father’s parting words to his son were astounding. He basically said, “Son, you don’t have to listen to anyone, not even me. Be your own man.” His parting words were calculated to do the maximum damage that he could so that the child’s mother would have the most difficult time raising him up.
Years later, the uncle of that child and two of his friends took this child on their annual pilgrimage to a famous amusement park. There were three sets of hawk-eyes trained on that young man, now just a little before the teenage span of his life. Rather than hold the young man’s hand (and embarrass him in front of strangers), these three men kept a watchful eye on the young man. The child, who had never had the opportunity to visit this amusement park, was in wonder at all of the sights before him. The three men watching him were diligent in keeping their eyes on this child.
About three hours into the first day of this weekend-long trip, some sound caught the attention of all three men. They looked away for a mere second or two. But that was all that was needed. The child, who was watching the men carefully, realizing his opportunity to be free from the control and authority of these men, bolted into the thick crowds. Almost an hour later, the young man was found, greatly enjoying the freedom from oversight by those who had been placed in authority over him, unaware of the dangers that his “dash to freedom” placed him in. Because this young man had the tendency to bolt like this, corrective action needed to be taken. In this case, the weekend-long trip was cut short, as the risk was just too great.
When we refuse to accept the rightful authority of the ones who have been placed in charge over us (not only men, but also God), we set ourselves up for the opportunity to be placed in a situation where the outcome is less than desirable. And like the young man’s story above, not every “dash to freedom” results in dire consequences. But we fail to recognize the danger that we are in, because we are unable to see every aspect of life as it unfolds around us.
Readying for Responsibility
Correction readies us for greater responsibility. As we accept correction of those who are in lawful authority over us, we begin to be prepared for greater responsibility. Just as you wouldn’t give the keys of the $500K Ferrari to the 14-year-old wild-child, neither will God give us responsibility when we are not ready.
When God calls us, He then equips us. But this is after careful preparation:
- Joseph was prepared as a slave for more than a decade before God called him to save the entire world from famine
- Moses was prepared for forty years as shepherd before God called him to shepherd his people into the promised land
- The twelve disciples of Christ were prepared for three years (including Paul, who had his own three-year preparation with Christ in the desert before being released) by Jesus Christ Himself.
We need to be open to correction in order to grow and be prepared for greater responsibility.
The manner of correction is just as important as its intensity and timing. The strong-willed child will defiantly say, “I would rather DIE than have to submit to you!” And the child is truly fully prepared to make good on that statement (it is NOT an idle threat). What to do? How do you prepare a child such as this so that they will be ready to be released from your care and supervision and then solely under the supervision of Almighty God?
God Himself will provide the manner, attitude, words, and consequences for training such a child if we allow Him to and invite Him to do so. Some children appear completely compliant. Those are the dangerous ones. They seem OK, but what is really going on inside? Are they compliant to get their way, or are they compliant because they desire to accept the authority over them?
God sees our hearts as they truly are. And He is more than capable of applying the “rod of correction” to each of us in such a way that we will not soon forget it. What works for you wouldn’t necessarily have any impact on me. And what works on me might just irritate and turn you away from God rather than have the desired effect.
In any case, correction is necessary, for if we are permitted to continue on in our ways, we will surely pass the point where our consciences are seared, and we won’t even realize the deep depths of darkness that our lives slip quietly into until the terrible moment when circumstances reveal the true depravity of our souls.
God is the one who knows best how to guide, correct, and instruct each and every one of us at any age or stage in our lives. We need to go before Him to receive instruction and correction. The hyper-grace community of believers may be just as surprised as the legalists when they go before Almighty God saying, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?” And our Lord Jesus Christ will reply, “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!”
God disciplines us as His children. Anyone who is not disciplined by God is NOT one of His. Surely, if God disciplines us, should we not then discipline our children as well? And what then shall we say of our motivation behind discipline? Is it truly “child abuse”, as culture tell us, or is it loving care as we use it as a preparatory method for bringing about the fruit of righteousness?
A Qualifying Question
Let’s ask a question: Do I accept discipline properly?
A short prayer of preparation:
Father in Heaven, may Your holy name be praised. Thank You for disciplining me so that I would not bring dishonor to Your name. Thank You for showing me, through Your discipline, that I am one of Yours. Thank You for the opportunity to grow in truth and righteousness. Thank You for the opportunity to bear fruit in accordance with righteousness rather than selfishness. Thank You, Father, for Your many lessons, painful as they are. And I pray, Lord God Almighty, that should I be in the position of administering these lessons to others in a parental, governmental, judicial, and/or business environment, that You would guide me as to the best way to do so. Help me to adhere to Your word, and to reject culture where culture conflicts with the truth. Give me courage, resources, and assistance where necessary to defend Your tried and true methods against the rebellion of society towards You. This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.