Godly Discipline


Proverbs 13:24 – He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.

Under this apparent severity is to be found the spirit of true kindness. It would seem as if the last word in the text were an emphatic word. There is a good deal of chastening, but it is not timely; the will has grown strong, the passions have acquired tenacious hold upon the mind, the chastening comes too late in life. It is the easiest of all things to spare the rod; it enables family life to proceed with fluency; it avoids all controversy and all painful collision as between the elder and the younger. For a time this is beautiful, so much so that people commend the family as one characterised by great harmony and union; on the contrary, it ought to be reprobated. The child that is wisely chastened comes to love the very hand that used the rod. Children must be taught that all things are not theirs, that the world is a place for discipline, and that all life is valuable only in proportion as it has been refined and strengthened by patient endurance. Let no merely cruel man take encouragement from these words to use the rod without measure, and to use it merely for the sake of showing his animal strength. That is not the teaching of the passage. The chastening is to be with measure, is to be timely, is to have some proportion to the offence that is visited, and is to give more pain to the inflicter of the punishment than to its receiver. Great wisdom is required in the use of the rod. The rod has to be used upon every man sooner or later; we cannot escape chastisement: we must be made to feel that the world is not all ours, that there are rights and interests to be respected besides those which we ourselves claim: the sooner that lesson can be instilled into the mind the better; if it can be wrought into the heart and memory of childhood it will save innumerable anxieties and disappointments in all after-life.

The rod is to be taken for correction or punishment in general, not specifically for corporal punishment.
1. The rod should be the last resource. The cases in which it is necessary to appeal to the rod are very rare.
2. When the rod is used, be quite sure that a fault has been committed. Children are sometimes severely chastened when they have committed no fault, and this produces a sense of injury and a loss of confidence, which cannot fail to exert evil influences.
3. Let there be a due proportion between the fault and the correction.
4. Never chastise in a passion.
5. Let chastisement be preceded by, or accompanied with, earnest efforts to convince the offender of his fault.
6. Accompany the correction with a system of encouragement