MARCH 15

Painful Truths

BY BARBARA RAINEY

Therefore the LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden, to cultivate the ground from which he was taken. GENESIS 3:23

People have often asked about our philosophy of disciplining children. I guarantee we were not flawless in carrying it out, but I do believe the Lord showed us a scriptural pattern of discipline that bore fruit in our family. I remember a friend asking me on the phone one day what I thought she should do about her little toddler who was throwing food off the high-chair tray. “What you need to do,” I said, “is make it painful for her to continue that behavior. That’s what God did with Adam and Eve—He gave them pain when
they disobeyed.”

As I thought more about this, the truth of it came even clearer to me: God gave Adam and Eve two kinds of pain as part of His disciplinary measure: physical pain and emotional pain. We know about the pain He gave Eve in childbirth. As this relates to disciplining children, that pain may take the form of spanking (within proper boundaries). But God also placed physical pain on Adam—the pain of hard work in toiling and tending the land. We found that giving our children a difficult work task in response to their disobedience was another biblical form of discipline.

God also gave Adam and Eve emotional pain. He removed them from His presence and from the pleasure of His company. In your family, this may mean sending a young child to his or her room or taking a toy away for a period of time. An older child may be grounded (again, the emotional pain of not being with friends) or given some other restriction. When these approaches are taken in love, you direct your children toward a path of obedience and restored relationship—just as God does with us.

DISCUSS
When discipline is nothing but immediate reaction to wrongdoing, it loses its sense of purpose. What are some larger goals you have for your children’s behavior ?

PRAY
Pray that you will have the courage to bring an appropriate amount of pain to bear on your children for disobedience.

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