What I want you to hear here is that God’s Word says we need to parent our kids with love and limits. Imagine, if you will, two big guardrails. And your kids are going to go through ups and downs and all arounds and the biggest thing I would say to parents now, I wasn’t this way when I was a young parent, is: relax. Okay? Every issue is not a life or death one. Relax a little bit.
And what you need to know is you’ve got to set these limits and they can’t have their own way and you need to break their little wills without crushing their spirit. And at the same time, they are going to do stuff that makes you crazy and they need to know no matter what they do, you love them, you’re for them, whether you feel like it or not.
Now, if you turn to the page, the next notes, what I want you to see is this: God gives us a picture of exactly how He parents. And I think anytime we get something from God saying: This is how I parent you, then we have a great model.
Because at the end of the day, the problem in my heart and the problem with your kids’ heart is they sin, right? They are selfish. And when you’re selfish, it always brings death. The Bible is really clear: sin produces separation or death. When there is sin with kids beating up one another, when they are disrespectful, when they don’t obey God, it produces separation and death.
And so, Hebrews chapter 12, verses 4 through 11, he introduces it with this sense of: you have not struggled with sin to the point of shedding blood. Jesus, fully God, fully man, yet without sin. And, yet, being fully human, He wrestled with temptation and in every way, like us, yet without sin.
And it’s in this context of what Jesus has done for us, who blazed the trail, and then he shifts gears in verse 4 and 5 and begins to talk about how your heavenly Father parents you and then he provides a model of love and limits.
Now, I’m going to read this. I’ll read it kind of slowly. And as I read it, I want you to listen for the word discipline, but when you hear discipline, don’t hear your American view of the word. Think of nurture, what is done, development – okay? And then I want you to listen for words that communicate love, words like son, words like love, words like concern – are you ready?
Follow along as I read. “In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood.” Reference to Christ. “And have you forgotten the word of encouragement that addresses you as sons? ‘My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when He rebukes you,’” notice: discipline: what God does; rebukes: what God says, “because the Lord disciplines those He loves, and he punishes everyone He accepts as His son.”
In your notes, put a line through punishes – this is not the best translation – and write “forcefully corrects.” Because in our world, the word punishment is paying someone back for doing something wrong. This is forcefully correcting to bring about a positive result.
He goes on to say, “Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?” And then he goes on to even make the point: “If you’re not disciplined – and everyone undergoes discipline – then you are illegitimate children and not true sons.”
In other words, if you weren’t disciplined, it means someone didn’t even really care. Illustration, in case you didn’t get the point. Verse 9, “Moreover, we all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers, our human fathers, disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good,” and then underline this phrase, “that we may share in His holiness.”
Do you see how it comes back to that target? How it comes back to that ultimate desire, the goal? So, God disciplines us for our good, our good in relationship with Him, our good in relationship with others, and ultimately it’s that we might share in His holiness.
And then, now, notice the summary, “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.” Notice those last words: “a harvest of righteousness.” He now uses an agricultural term. What do you know about harvest? When you, if a farmer goes and plants some seed, he doesn’t say, “Okay, I went to bed, I come back in two days, it doesn’t work! What’s going on? What’s going on? I planted them two days ago!”
What do you know about harvesting? You never reap in the same season that you sow. See, the tough part about being a really good parent, a godly parent, is you keep sowing the seeds of what is right, of doing discipline: limits. Love, for significance. Concern.
You do that, you do that, you do that, you do that and there are times where it seems like nothing is happening. But you sow; later you reap a harvest of righteousness. Notice, what is the goal? What is the harvest? It doesn’t say a harvest of success; it doesn’t say a harvest of upward mobility. It doesn’t say a harvest of super sports star; it doesn’t say a harvest of high SAT scores.
Now, if those things come, praise God. But those are byproducts; those are secondary. It’s a harvest of righteousness. You have a young man or a young woman who loves God, walks with God, and obeys Him, not because they ought or should; because they want to, because they are sharing in His holiness.
And then notice the other part. A harvest of righteousness and peace. Man, how many young people have zero peace? They are just hooked to electronic or a something or a someone or a pressing or they are on the performance trap that many of us have been on.
And then at the very end of the passage, did you notice? That little word, “who have been trained by it.” Not “taught” by it. Training involves time, a process, and repetition. See, the problem with parenting is that is a sowing in one season, a reaping in another, and it takes time, it takes repletion, and it takes a very specific process.
If you have ever met anyone who is great in music or art or athletics, I will tell you this: they went into training. They went into training. They were up early swimming laps when everyone else was sleeping.
See, you go into training.
And that’s what we are doing. We are helping our kids go into training. This is who God is, this is how life works, here’s where the boundaries are, I love you no matter what. No, you can’t have your way. I am sorry everyone else and everyone else’s parents lets them do that. I love you more than they love their kids, so, this is the way it’s going to be in our house.
And you know what? They don’t like you and they slam the door and, “You don’t love me,” and, “you’re so strict,” and, “you’re so…” But your house is where the fun is, your house is where the love is, your house is where there is limited media, your house is where there are two parents focused toward, “This is the goal, here’s the journey, and here’s the process.”
Now, for some of you, there’s not another parent. And whether that’s they are over fighting a war or you’re a widow or you’re divorced and we’ll talk about that later. But that’s the journey.
Notice the summary here: “Discipline is teaching obedience to God and His Word through consistent consequences” – that’s discipline, actions – “and clear instructions” – words – “in an atmosphere of love.” And circle the word discipline there, after summary, and then put an arrow and write, “the root word is disciple.” Right? Isn’t that what we are supposed to do is make disciples? Well, a disciple is disciplined. A disciple is learning. A disciple goes into a process.
“Go into all the world,” well, I’ll tell you what, before you go into all the world, just look right inside your home. The number one disciples on the face of the earth that you have responsibility for are your own kids.
Reminder: they will be your source of the greatest joys on this planet. They will be the source of the greatest sorrows you’ll ever have on this planet. They are the greatest and most precious gift ever entrusted to you and they are the most overwhelming responsibility. And so, you disciple them. You go into training.
Now, notice what discipline does. The necessity of discipline is – why? To deter destruction. Remember the Old Testament, and David is a great warrior, he is a great musician, he is a great man after God’s own heart, but he’s a passive dad. He doesn’t discipline when Absalom does stuff. He doesn’t discipline with one of his other sons. And I’ll tell you what, his life becomes a train wreck at the personal level because he won’t step up and do what he needs to do. And, therefore, it brings destruction.
The whole point of discipline is, yes, you’re going to be the bad guy for a while, but you’re going to prevent your kids from destruction. Notice it goes on. The means of discipline is action and words.
It’s done in an atmosphere of love, but it’s things you do, things you say. The motive in discipline is to express love. Remember it said, “God’s discipline is evidence that you’re a legitimate child.”
In my research in my thesis on parenting, when I was in seminary, this just amazed me. I’ll never forget doing this study. Juvenile delinquents, overwhelmingly said, “I knew my parents cared about me and loved me when they disciplined me. And I knew they didn’t give a rip when they never did.”
Even juvenile delinquents are saying, “I didn’t like it, but when they cared enough to set boundaries and enforce it, something deep in my psyche and my soul knew they care.” When you don’t discipline and you don’t want the hassle and you don’t get up off the La-Z-Boy or when you won’t put the remote down, when you won’t put the phone down, when you’re so busy with your life and your social issues and all the stuff that we all are tempted with and you let it slide and let it slide and make excuses like, “They’re just going through a phase and all kids go through this and everyone else’s kids are like this and it’ll probably work out later,” wrong, wrong, wrong!
It’s laziness. It takes extraordinary focus and urgency and discipline to raise great kids. And that means you’ve got to turn the thing off, you’ve got to have structured time, and you go into training to set limits in a loving way that produce kids that learn to understand who God is and love Him.
The goal is to teach them obedience. Obedience is that inward hearing of God’s voice and responding to it immediately. We want to help them learn to be free of the bondage of selfishness and self-centered living. We are in a culture that is raising narcissists. And, by the way, please don’t take this like, “Oh, our kids should never be on Facebook,” or this or that. But just back up as you see the whole social media thing rolling out bigger and bigger and bigger.
And you think of all the things, unconsciously, we do as parents that often, the motives, I think, from the heart are good. The methodology is not only wrong, it’s stupid. So we are going to have our entire family revolve around our eight-year-old’s schedule. And so we all travel and spend money and buy uniforms and our whole world for forty-eight hours out of every seven days is about everything our kids are doing.
Or they have to be involved in this, this, and this so we eat supper together that someone actually cooks about once every two weeks and we can’t figure out why we don’t have close, bonding relationships.
Well, because they have to be involved in this and this and this and this and this and this and this because I fear, “What if they don’t get all the opportunities of…?” You know the opportunities they are missing? You. You know the opportunities they are missing? Stability. You know the opportunities they are missing? Regularity. Focus. Time. Sharing. Unhurriedness. You don’t produce a great athlete – I’m an old coach – I did my graduate work in sports psychology. Take your kid in the backyard with a ball and throw it with them and don’t get them involved in all this stuff until the motor skills are ready and the readiness is ready here and then be selective about how much you do and set some limits and boundaries and let them figure out what they are best at and give them multiple opportunities and then relax.
How many twelve and thirteen-year-olds do we have now that are burnt out on sports? Well, my lands, they have been doing it since they were two!
There is something wrong with groups of angry, screaming parents and passive kids. “Go, go, go, go!” When you have to run with the kids. “Here’s first base! Now you’ve got to go, son!”
Someone ought to say: “Stop the insanity!” Eat a nice, leisurely Saturday morning breakfast. Take a walk together. Have a meal together. Go out in the backyard. Get a little plastic ball. Roll something here. Have fun. Be a family. All of that developmental stuff is going to happen. And I’m off on a little tangent, so I might as well just finish it up, all right?
Your kid is not going to be an NBA, in the NHL, or the Olympics. Okay? Just take that one to the bank. They are not going to be. So, if they are, they will be thrown into a life of extraordinary amounts of money and fame that will produce the outcomes that will be the very opposite of what you would ever want!
Twenty-year-olds making fifteen or twenty million dollars a year end up putting white powder up their nose and living lives of absolute destruction because human beings, by and large, cannot handle that much money and that much fame. And, yet, you would think that that would be the agenda that we want. Here endeth the mini sermon within the sermon.
The result of discipline is short-term pain and long-term gain. Short-term pain and long-term gain. And so, all I want you to know is everything I have shared, we can agree, mentally in here, or not agree and think, Oh, wow, boy.
So much of what we are doing right now as parents is an unconscious following after it. Well, this is what everyone else is doing. And I don’t mean everyone else out there. I mean this is what other Christian parents are doing. All the other Christian parents I know are living insane lives in their little minivans and traveling here and there and they don’t eat together and they don’t have much time together and their nine-year-old has a phone, so shouldn’t ours?
Well, stop and think about: what do you want to produce? Where are you headed? Especially some of you that, you work in construction or you work in business or you work and you start with the end in mind. Ask yourself: what do you want to build? And then ask yourself: what are you doing today? You have strategic plans in your work, don’t you? You have strategic plans about projects that you do. Well, ask yourself: if sharing in God’s holiness and producing this kind of a child is the goal and you back it up and you say, “This is where we’re at right now. What are we doing and what are we saying to produce that as the goal?”
And here’s what I’ll tell you: when that is the goal, because as ranting and raving as I was, on the side, my kids ended up very successful in sports and in music and in scholarship and doing good things. But that was not my goal. That they made first team or became great at this or that – praise God! I’m really thankful.
But that’s a nice by-product if God so allows it. It’s a really lousy goal. It’s a really lousy goal, because they can hit that one and lose all the things that count.