Ten Biblical Truths on Disciplining Children

9. The responsibility of parents to require obedience is underlined by the duty God gives to children to obey.

We see this in the Bible’s direct commands to children.

Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you. (Exodus 20:12)

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” (Ephesians 6:1–3)

Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. (Colossians 3:20)

And we see our duty as parents to require obedience of our children in the way the Scriptures indict those who do not obey their parents.

Since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done… They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty…disobedient to parents. (Romans 1:28–30)

People will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy. (2 Timothy 3:2)

And the elders of the church are told to model for their people a home-life with submissive children.

He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive. (1 Timothy 3:4)

10. The both/and task of parenting—encouraging and disciplining—is rooted in God’s purpose that true biblical faith flourishes when Christians (and their children) are regularly reminded of God’s kindness and his severity.

You stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear… Note then the kindness and the severity of God. (Romans 11:20–22)

The kind of fear we should cultivate in ourselves as Christians, and in our children, is not the cowering fear that slaves have of their masters, but the reverential fear of the one we love and delight to please—a fear that awakens when we are drifting from him, and sends us hurrying back. Such is the fear of God that is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 9:10).

Faithful Parenting Takes Sacrifice

Parenting is a very high calling from God. It is one of the most influential roles in the world. It portrays God to children before they know what God is like. It shapes them profoundly. It is the way God designed for his saving truth to pass from one generation to the next. It is not easy, but costly.

Passive parenting is easy, and bears bitter fruit. Faithful parenting demands sacrifice and self-denial. It is not guaranteed success. The best-reared children may rebel. God’s did. “Children have I reared and brought up, but they have rebelled against me” (Isaiah 1:2). This is a great sorrow. But it is not the bitter fruit of parental neglect.

Pour out your prayers to God, and give your heart to your children. Give them your strength, and give them God’s truth. The rewards will be great. And you will not regret it.  

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John Piper is the Pastor for Preaching at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota. John is the author of more than 30 books and more than 25 years of his preaching and teaching is available free at DesiringGod.org. © Desiring God.