A friend of mine shared an uncomfortable experience recently regarding her children. It seems she, her husband and small children were visiting another family and during the course of the evening, the children misbehaved; nothing drastic, but differently than what was expected by the parents of my visiting friends. Taking the children aside, they were clearly told they would behave appropriately or face the consequences.
When the hosting parents discovered what had happened, they were outraged! Their children were given much more freedom and believed the visiting children should have the same acceptance. Feelings were shared between the couples and they parted ways. Later they reversed visiting locales. The children were playing together and again, my friend and her husband felt the need to speak to their children. Once more, displeasure was voiced at the way my friend was raising their children.
What made this worse was when my friend received a detailed note from her friend saying since they were causing their children to be fearful with such strict rules, they would no longer be sharing the company of each other’s families. My friend, of course was very hurt, but she and her husband stood their ground because they believed it was necessary to teach their children right from wrong. They also believed “fear” of Mom and Dad was warranted when it came to what could be expected if they misbehaved.
It has nothing to do with abuse, but it has everything to do with creating boundaries. If children know no boundaries from their parents, they become rude, cruel, obnoxious, disrespectful of any authority figure, and have problems with self-control for their rest of their lives.1 Our culture has taught our children they have the right to stand up to their parents when they disagree with them. This puts the child, who no longer believes the parent knows best, in charge instead of the parents.
As a Christian parent who believes God’s Word is clear on disciplining a child, discipline is not meant to create a fear in the sense most people think “fear.” But if a child knows without question bad behavior will demand some kind of consequence, the child will often at least think twice before following through with the misbehaving act.
The same is true about adults. We are told in the Bible to have a fear of The Lord, because “fear of The Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” (Proverbs 9:10 and many other places.) But to fear God is to have respect, awe, trust and have the willingness to obey. This doesn’t mean we are afraid to go to Him in prayer, but we, like the children in the opening paragraphs, know that misbehavior will bring consequences!
God has given us very clear guidelines and boundaries within His Word. There is right and wrong, black and white and as His children we are expected to follow the rules. When we do, we demonstrate our love for Him. When he disciplines bad behavior, He demonstrates love for us.
So I challenge you to determine where you feel you stand in your relationship with God. Do you believe you need to tell God what to do in some circumstances because He isn’t doing it right or fast enough or even give you an answer you didn’t want? How are you responding? Is it in awe, with respect and even fear of God? Are you in obedience to Him or are you suffering the consequences of bad behavior?