Proverbs 22:15 Folly is bound up in the heart of a child,
but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him.
Anyone who has raised children should be able to agree with this to at least some extent. I say should, because sadly, some parents are blind to this reality. It all comes back to our fundamental view of humanity. One side says that we are born pure, and that everything undesirable comes from outside influences. The other side says that we are born with a bent to rebellion, and left to ourselves make a mess of things. That position is called belief in original sin. The irony is that politically, the first group tends toward belief in government control, and thus big government, whereas the second group tends toward a desire for as little government as possible. If people are by nature good and pure, then people should be in charge. If people are by nature rebellious and sinful, then God should be in charge. It’s that simple. An honest religious person will see that they themselves aren’t good enough to rule over others without a LOT of guidance from God, but a humanistic person will tend to feel that their ideas are best, so of course they should be in charge. The rubber really hits the road in the parent/child relationship, because the parent is naturally in charge, particularly in the early years, yet may feel – and be – entirely inadequate for the task. Parenting should teach us a lot about God! We desire the best for our children, yet don’t know how to provide it. When we think of “the best” in material terms (which is very common) we really make a mess of things, because what children need most is the security of unconditional love that cares enough to discipline them. That goes back to this verse. Frankly, applying discipline is hard work, and some parents just get lazy, farming out discipline to school teachers or even the police. If all parents did their job, we wouldn’t need police, and would hardly need teachers!
As a father and grandfather, I have certainly seen this first hand. I am proud of my daughters, but I certainly agree with the writer of this Proverb! I have found, and seen in others, that when boundaries are set early and properly, the various corrections needed are much easier than when those boundaries are not defined. I would certainly not call myself a perfect parent, but I know the perfect Father, and that has made a huge difference. I have found that guiding my children’s growth has been a major part of Father God growing me! I still find “pockets of folly” in my own heart, and at times need God’s “rod of discipline” to clean them out. Right now my active parenting is mostly in relation to my being a pastor, and thus a spiritual father. Discipline frankly can get complicated and messy in a church setting, but I must not shy away from it. I don’t have the necessary wisdom, but God does, and I need to be a willing instrument in His hands.
Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for all You did yesterday, in the service and afterwards. Help me keep my eyes on You and rejoice, even as You had me preach yesterday, so that the plans of the devil may be defeated and Your will be done fully, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!