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"Where there is ignorance of God and His ways the people run wild; but when they know His ways there is restraint" (Prov. 29:18).

Sometimes people's perception of what love is can be highly distorted. The Bible says that God is love. It is God then that should define what love is and how to fulfill it. I'd love to bring some insight to this in the area of children.

We all desire the assurance that we are loved. First, by God and then by those around us. This desire to be loved can cause people to do unimaginable things. When children don't get love God's way, it can lead them to try to get attention and love in ways that are often expressed as inappropriate behavior. You've heard people say, "Oh he's just trying to get attention!"

Children have a yearning in them. It is a yearning of their spirit. It is the desire to be taught love and right behavior. Kids give mixed signals that confuse us as parents. They don't look like they want training and discipline. They cry, scream and whine. Yet if they don't get it, they become intolerable. That's what causes those mixed signals.

Children have a spirit that yearns for God and his ways. They also have a carnal nature that opposes God's ways. We understand it as adults. We know we should do one thing, yet we do another. We know we shouldn't eat that dessert, yet we eat two. We know we should exercise yet we don't, etc.

The Apostle Paul expressed this paradox in Rom 7:15, "I don't understand myself at all, for I really want to do what is right, but I can't. I do what I don't want to—what I hate." Paul is describing the battle between the spiritual and carnal natures within us. In Rom 8:6 he says, "Following after the Holy Spirit leads to life and peace, but following after the carnal nature leads to death and hell."

Our children need God's kind of love and assurance. They truly want to be corralled into doing what is good and right. They may have a carnal nature that is selfish and doesn't want correction. They also have a spirit that is desiring to be trained by God. We were all made that way.

Proverbs 20:11 says, "Even a child is known by his actions, by whether his conduct is pure and right." If you ever see an out-of-control child you know the child is unhappy even though he or she is doing exactly what they think they want to do.

The truth is, it isn't what they want to do. Their spirit hungers to do what's right but it takes a parent who knows and loves God's ways to exercise strength, love and discipline to bring a child to that right place of good behavior.

Prov 29:15 says, "The rod and rebuke give wisdom, But a child left to himself brings shame to his mother." The rod can and does represent both the correction of God's words and discipline. It takes both to help bring a child to a good place of behavior.

The rod of correction should always bring understanding of what God declares as right behavior, what He deems as unacceptable behavior, and the action of curbing wrong behavior. Instruction and discipline are necessary acts of God's love.

Proverbs 23:14-15 says, "You shall beat him with a rod, and deliver his soul from hell." Now don't panic. God does not believe in child abuse. He loves your children more than you do. That word beat simply means to physically administer punishment when it is needed and in the appropriate way. That way is not abuse. But done in the right way it is an act of love. It says it will save him from the path that leads to hell.

That's called love. We see in 2 Timothy 3:17 that when we minister this love our children will eventually become "complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work."

Now getting back to assurance. Let a child grow with nothing more than your verbal boundaries and guidelines and you haven't give them love or assurance. You have left them to experience chaos. Yelling and screaming will accomplish little and will eventually manifest the wrong things.

Love, strength, and discipline deliver a child from his or her own carnal nature and directs the training of their spirit man toward the things of God—something they inwardly yearn for.

When this kind of training goes forth, it always has to be given with a great deal of love and assurance. As a parent, it protects you from false condemnation and guilt when having to correct them. It helps them understand boundaries and guidelines are an act of God's love.

Whenever I took my children into another room for a discussion and discipline I would walk through steps:
  1. "Okay Peter, why am I bringing you here?"
  2. "Do you understand that you disobeyed me more than once?"
  3. "Do you understand that you kept behaving this way even after I warned you?"
  4. "Let me help you understand what God wants so you will learn to be a good person that treats other people with God's love."
  5. "Now, do you want me to be a good daddy or a bad daddy?" "A good one?" "Great!"
  6. "That means I need to correct you and that makes me sad, but it is a part of God's love so we'll be reminded what is acceptable and what isn't."
From there I had to follow through. When I did, I always reassured them that this would be put in the past and we would start fresh. They had to apologize to me and then we exchanged hugs, forgiveness, and assurance of love.

It is for all these reasons and because of how hard it is to walk through them that the reward factor we've been talking about is such a great blessing. Rewards are fun. They encourage good behavior and help to eliminate much of the need to discipline, and they allow us to focus on goals and rewards for good behavior instead of having to focus on bad behavior.

Lack of restraint results in people running wild. That starts at childhood. It's also curbed at childhood. Love and assurance with strength, discipline and boundaries is the perfect fulfillment of God's love. And this restraint for us as adults will keep us from running wild, from ruining society, and will make us happier people, too! It is God's love.
All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Author Biography

Tim Burt
Web site: Todays Fresh Manna
Pastor Tim became a part of the leadership team at Living Word Christian Center in 1984 and served as Associate Pastor from 1989 to 2017. He and His wife Renee, also a Pastor at Living Word, resigned, feeling impressed by God to pursue the tremendous growth of their ministry "Fresh Manna," as well as teaching conferences and seminars, and increasing their involvement on the mission field through Tim & Renee Burt Ministries.

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