“No.” I hear the word a lot. I hear my kids say it. Being a children’s pastor, I hear kids at church say it over and over again. If they do not say it, they often brazenly demonstrate the thought by grinning at me while the directly disobeying my latest command to sit down. “No!”
When our kids say no they do not ultimately have a problem with authority. They have a problem with God. The creator of the universe tells children to obey their “parents in the Lord for this is right,” and tells them to “Obey your leaders and submit to them.” (Eph. 6:10; Heb. 13:17).
When they tip over their cup, when they hop out of their seat, and when they scream at their parents in anger, they are declaring themselves to be the God of their universe. They are saying, “I know better; This will make me happy, and I have every right to get it regardless of the cost.” Little people who cannot go to the bathroom by themselves are attempting to turn the world upside down when they say, ‘No.’ We cannot let this happen.
The Bible has a term for such little people: fools. In Psalm 14:1 God says, “The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds; there is none who does good.” We should lovingly discipline children when they do abominable deeds because such children are ultimately rebelling against God. We send kids home from church and place them in timeouts so that they will learn that they our fools. We imperfectly model divine judgement because we want our children to see their foolishness and repent of it. A one week ban from church is much kinder than an eternal life in Hell. If we love the children in our homes and churches, we will discipline them.
This is the mindset of God. He says in Hebrews 12:6, “For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” God punishes his children because he loves them and wants what is best for them. For us to be like God, we too must discipline children out of love.
If we remember 1 Corinthians 13, we will remember that love does not boast and does not seek out it is own. We discipline not because ‘our’ authority was challenged, and not because we are upset that ‘our’ plans have been changed. We should never punish children to defend our pride. Like our children, we are sinners daily in need of grace and correction. We discipline because we hate sin wherever it appears and because we hate seeing foolishness destroy our children’s lives. God administers such loving discipline to us. We must follow our father’s example. Are you ready?