Biblical Child Training

If you are a Christian parent, you are responsible to eliminate personal behavior in your life that will frustrate and embitter your children over time. Furthermore, you should nourish your children by identifying their needs and meeting those needs, whether they be education and skillset needs, physical and healthcare needs, spiritual needs, or social needs. On this foundation, then, Paul teaches you to provide two vital services to your children in order for them to accomplish God’s will for life (Eph 6:4)

Provide Them with Discipline

The Greek word for nurture or discipline is a specialized word that means “child training.” It focuses on establishing rules for the purpose of establishing proper behavior. This involves both punishing wrong behavior with appropriate consequences and rewarding good behavior with appropriate benefits.

It is interesting to observe that the book of Hebrews uses this same word to describe the way that God responds to your wrong behavior as his spiritual child, with the goal of transforming you to become more like Christ (Heb 12:5-10). Of special note is that this child-training (or discipline) process may be unpleasant and painful.

Provide Them with Instruction

Admonition or instruction here means “teaching or warning.” This word focuses on the words that parents use to teach their children, while the first word for “child training” emphasizes the parents’ methods. Furthermore, it emphasizes the kind of instruction that parents give to warn against wrong behavior before it happens (1 Cor 10:11) and to correct wrong behavior after it happens (Tit 3:10). The primary purpose of this is to raise awareness of what is wrong and to encourage a new and better perspective in the heart of your child.

Let the Bible Be Your Guide

So, as a parent, where should you receive guidelines for child-training and insights for your parental instructions? Notice how Paul says that the training and admonition you provide should be “of the Lord.” This means that you should get your parenting methods and insights from the Lord, or more specifically, from Scripture. Knowing this, it is important that you do not raise your children based upon popular psychology (i.e. Parenting Magazine), cultural traditions, worldly wisdom, personal intuition, and methods simply handed down to you from your parents and grandparents.

Ultimately, God holds parents responsible to train their children to follow his way. We know that Abraham did this for instance, because Moses tells us that he “command[ed] his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the LORD, to do righteousness and justice” (Gen 18:19). Consider how Isaac obeyed his father by carrying wood for a sacrifice on Mount Moriah and even obeyed his father by allowing him to bind him on the altar (Gen 22:6-9). Then contrast Abraham to Eli the priest. Samuel tells us that “his sons made themselves vile, and he did not restrain [or correct] them” (1 Sam 3:13). They committed immorality and theft in the tabernacle and Eli did nothing.

Child Discipline from Scripture

Thankfully, the Bible provides a remarkable resource for parenting. First, it provides important guidelines for discipline. These guidelines especially appear in the Old Testament book of Proverbs, but they appear elsewhere as well (Prov 13:24; 19:18; 22:6; 23:13-14; 29:15, 17). These are the practices that Jewish parents continued to follow in the first century and carried over into the church. Gentile believers would also have learned these and adopted them as they became acquainted with Scripture.

Child Instruction from Scripture

Second, the Bible provides a treasure trove of insights for warning and correcting your children regarding wrong, ungodly behavior. Consider how Paul tells us that the Old Testament examples of the Israelites’ failures in the wilderness are recorded in Scripture to warn us from committing the same errors today (1 Cor 10:1-11). What’s more, Paul tells Timothy that all Scripture is for teaching (2 Tim 3:16). So, when you warn or correct your children, don’t just tell them what you think, tell them what the Lord says. After all, you’re parenting them for him anyway, so they need to know what he says.

Review Questions

  1. What kind practices do you follow in providing your children with discipline? Are your practices biblical? If not, where did you learn them?
  2. What kind instructions do you give to your children? Are your insights biblical? If not, where did you learn them?
  3. How can your family put into practice what you have learned from this lesson?
2 replies
  1. Michael Dean Brackett
    Michael Dean Brackett says:

    It’s difficult to guide my children when I’m prevented to see them by their mother. It’s been two years since I’ve seen them and now I feel like my presence would do more harm than good. Good examples of biblical scripture in your article. You are very blessed with skills.

  2. TOvermiller
    TOvermiller says:

    Michael, the best you can do, by God’s grace, is to provide them with a godly, biblical example – even at a distance, providing for their needs in whatever way you can. In addition to this, you can pray for God’s blessing and protection in their lives. God hears and answers prayer.

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