SCRIPTURE: I Samuel 2:27–36; Colossians 3:15–25
Last week we noted how important it is to take not of the “temperature” within our homes. Their warmth or chill is to be measured not first of all by the affection between parents and children but rather by the love which believers have for their Lord and God. This they are consciously and consistently to instill in their children. This alone provides the home with its true warmth.
To do this is far from easy. It requires initially that the parents train themselves in the fear of the Lord on the basis of God’s revelation of himself and his works. By so disciplining themselves unto the fear of the Lord, they come increasingly to discipline their children by word and deed unto that same reverence for the covenant God. Is there a contrast between “fear” and “love” according to Scripture? What is meant by each word?
To this end God has provided his “law.” What is meant by God’s law? Wherein does it differ from impersonal, civil law? In what sense is that covenant-law the rule for our entire life? Can you prove this from the Bible?
Such discipline is a difficult task. This is especially true in our age which seems to be undisciplined. We have been told for so many decades to free ourselves from our inhibitions and restraints. Even from pulpits people hear the message that God wants us to be happy, happy seemingly in the sense in which this word is used by the man in the street. Discipline has come to be a very naughty, naughty word. And to exercise firm discipline is regarded by many as old-fashioned. How would you account for this shift in emphasis during the past fifty or sixty years?
A. The need for such disciplille
1. The Bible plainly teaches that parents have authority over their children. This is taught in the New as well as in the Old Testament. Can such discipline reflect love? Why do so many people seem to find discipline a contradiction to love? Does the Scripture teach this?
2. Discuss Eli and his attitude to his sons. What did these sons do? How would you explain that God was still displeased with Eli, although he did warn his sons? (vs. 24, 25) Can we warn our children in a wrong and fruitless way? Give examples.
3. What does it mean that Eli honored his sons above the Lord? (vs. 29). How can we make ourselves guilty of this? Should we rebuke our children for all the sins which we discover in them? How should we answer, when they point out our weaknesses and sins?
B. The nature of such discipline
1. In several places the Bible speaks about the authority of parents over their children. Give examples. Whence does this authority come? What is its specific nature and its purpose?
2. God commands children basically to “obey” their parents. Why is this demanded first? What characteristics and qualities are implied in God-pleasing obedience? Does the demand for such obedience make it hard for children to love their parents? Do you think there is more or less love of children for their parents today than a generation or two ago?
3. Study carefully the passage in Colossians. How does the peace of God and true thankfulness contribute to a wen·disciplined home? How would you explain that God lays this duty chiefly upon the fathers? Didn’t the mothers in Israel have a task here?
C. The norm of such discipline
1. The standard in accordance with which God required parents to diScipline their children was his revealed will. Note how Eli disregarded this. The same truth is stressed and specifically linked to our relation with Christ by Paul in Ephesians 6:1, 4. Children must obey their parents “in the Lord.” What does this mean? Fathers must “bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” Explain the difference between “nurture” and “admonition.”
2. Fathers are warned not to “provoke” their children. What does this mean? Isn’t it true that our children always resent discipline? How can we then apply this rule to our lives? Should we ever spank children? How should we deal with children who are angry with us as parents? Give some concrete suggestions how we can demonstrate to our children that love for God and therefore love for them prompts us to discipline them.
D. The blessings of such discil)line
1. For the children.
This is specifically stated by Paul. How will the children come to know experientially that their obedience is “well-pleasing to the Lord?” Does the Lord show this in any specific ways to them? Can you prove this from Scripture?
By contrast this is taught in the story of Eli. Note how not only blessings but also life was taken away from them. Mention the consequences of this for their future generations. Are there evidences that the lawlessness and lack of discipline on the part of parents and grandparents beget tragic results for their children’s lives today?
2. For the parents.
Can you show from Scripture that blessings accrue to parents who take this task of training and disciplining their children seriously? Which are some of these blessings? How are these related to God’s revelation of himself as the God who keepeth covenant and lovingkindness with children’s children?
How do you deal with your children when in response to your seemingly strict discipline in their lives they tell you about other Christian parents who allow their children to do what you forbid? Do you think parents ought to get together and discuss rules for their children’s lives with other parents? Should we have more sermons on this subject today?