What about Discipline?
At this point you may be asking. OK that’s well and good but what does this have to do with discipline? Paul admonitions the Ephesians
1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), 3 “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” 4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:1-4)
First, Paul tells the children to obey the parents. This command is not a bare command. He’s not just saying kids obey because I said so. These household codes are connected with the gospel foundation he’s laid at the beginning of the book (Ephesians 1-3). Second, Paul tells the parents not to provoke the children to anger. Both commands are rooted in the gospel.
The instruction is what I’ve already laid out. It’s the daily gospeling. It’s the faithful living in light of that truth. Christian parenting should look like the faithful stewarding of our Lord’s children. We sacrificially serve Him by disciplining them. They are first and foremost people created in his image and if they are saved they are especially his bride. We should not lose sight of either of these truths.
What’s more. We do this particularly by not provoking them to anger. If the gospel doesn’t inform our parenting it will be hard to love our children and discipline them with out expressing our frustration and anger. The gospel reminds us that our sins were serious enough to send Christ to the cross--preventing our anger from seeping out. But it also reminds us that our children’s sins are serious enough to require a Savior which informs the way we discipline.
If you do not rehearse the gospel story faithfully like Moses in Deuteronomy commands then when these volatile situations arise: Sinner(s) (parent) plus sinner (children) will equal anger and frustration for both parties. However, if the gospel informs all of our family life then those truths will inevitably transform the way in which we discipline our children. It will prevent us from provoking them to anger and on the occasions where we do let our anger and frustration out, it allows us to ask for forgiveness admitting humbly it was a sin against God and them.
Practically, you might say something like “The way you treated your sister was very unkind. This is just the kind of sinfulness that Jesus died to save us from.” Insert appropriate discipline. “Now come sit with daddy and let me give you a hug and a kiss. I want to tell you that I love you even when you disobey and if you’ll place all your trust in Jesus he will take your dirty heart and give you a new heart so you no longer have to sin.”
Or for children who are saved, “The way you acted in the store was sinful. You acted selfishly. Jesus covered your sins on the cross and put your old dirty heart to death and gave you new life. Let’s pray that the Spirit would continue to transform your heart making more like Christ.”
You can read the entire series here.