“It’s been discovered that people can live forty days without food, three days without water, eight minutes without air and not even one minute without hope” (Chuck Swindoll). Hope is the greatest essential we need to live life well.
A test to decide if an opportunity, a comment, a sermon, or teaching is flowing from the Hope of Glory is what results: does it shame or build up. The outcome of hope does not put to shame as Romans 5:5 tells us. Shame disgraces, embarrasses, dishonors and humiliates. Hope on the other hand produces joy, satisfaction, self-respect, and pleasure. It gives vision for the future and a hope for a better life. Jeremiah 29:11 tells us the plans that God has for his people, “…plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Shame imprisons while hope promises.
I see too many parents who are in the business of tearing their children down instead of fulfilling the call of “encouraging them and building them up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11). Building up is big business to God. I mean, after all, He sent His Son to the cross to lift us up out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire of sin so our feet could stand UP on a rock and give us a firm place of justification before God. Again, God is in the building up business. And as parents we need to join Him in this business as we BRING UP our children.
Paul instructs fathers to “…not provoke your children to anger; but BRING THEM UP in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). This verse is speaking to fathers specifically, but the truth also applies to mothers. As the wise saying is clear: “The wise woman builds (UP) her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down” (Proverbs 14:1 emphasis added). This proverb is not talking about her house; it’s talking about her family. So, in both situations (father and mother), we see that building up brings parenting to its full completion.
Does this mean we don’t discipline our children? Not at all. However, all discipline should have the aim to pull our children out of the miry pit of offense and place them up on the rock of forgiveness and a fresh new start.
Some examples where a parent can give discipline and hope at the same time are:
- In public. Never discipline openly in public. Take your child aside and quietly point out their sin. Once sin is pointed out, give them a new behavior to strive for instead of the one they are engaged in. Take note of this: an open public rebuke humiliates your child, and humiliation is a form of shame. This does not build up; it actually encourages anger to take root in the child’s heart. Likewise, giving your child a new behavior to have points them onward giving them direction for a better way. Too many parents stop at “no” and forget that children need new direction.
- In the family. Again, never discipline in front of the family. Remove the child from the family circle and discuss and discipline the issue in private. Just as a public rebuke humiliates, making your child’s offense at home public dishonors them and their place of dignity in the family. Not to mention, rebuking your children in the family circle inadvertently gives siblings permission to also point fingers to the offender. This encourages family brawling!
- In the child. When a child has wronged, remember that consequence is the not the end of the process. Restoration is the end. Whether in public or in the family, once the matter has been discussed, disciplined and corrected, embrace the child with open arms of love and forgiveness. This step in the process is the most important. Without it a child is condemned forever to shame and never feels they can recover. Not enough of restoration in a child’s life can result in despair and even depression.
Hopelessness is a life killer. Discipline, correction and punishment alone are not enough to offer hope. If Jesus had just shed his blood and died on the cross for our sin, it would have produced payment for our sin, and even given us justification before God, but it would have never given us the hope of life. It was the raising UP of Jesus that gives us the hope of life everlasting and total reconciliation with our Heavenly Father.
We can give our children many things in this world. We can feed them, give them a home, a superb education, amazing opportunities, and many material possessions, but if we don’t give them hope, we have destroyed their future of promise. Remember your primary goal as parent is more about who you are building up in your children than the sin you are tearing away from them.
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