What does the Bible actually say? What role does the Holy Spirit play?
Proverbs 13:24 (ESV) Whoever spares the rod, hates his child. But he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.
Proverbs 22:15 Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him
Proverbs 29:15 The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to the mother.
If you were brought up in Africa, you are most likely to relate with this phrase; ‘spare the rod; spoil the child.’ We look at the rod as a cane or a stick that we use to exercise discipline on the child. While this can be true and help to some extent, it can also backfire on the parents in the long run.
Note that, I am not advocating for not caning the child. Caning as a form of discipline can be done but with caution. If exercised without caution it can destroy the bond you have with your child. It can make your child more rebellious as they get used to it and thus toughen up.
How many times have we seen children whose parents used the cane excessively only for them to turn out worse. Have you ever heard a parent exasperate that, “This child I have done all I can but no avail.” There are even those who have tried legal ways to try and correct their child.
So how can we train up a child in the way he should go that even when he is old he will not depart from it?
What is the Solution?
The rod was used in the Old Testament by the shepherds. Moses used the rod to support himself, to guide and direct the sheep in the way he wanted them to go and possibly to defend the sheep from the beasts of prey. He used the rod to perform miracles too. Exodus 4:20.
The rod symbolizes the Holy Spirit for the believers in Christ in our contemporary world. This is seen when Jesus refers to us as his sheep (read John 10) and the Holy Spirit as the rod that he left to guide us. (Romans 8:14, John 16:13, Isaiah 30:21. Jesus uses the rod of the Holy Spirit to guide his sheep just like Moses did.
Another instance is seen in Psalms 23:4 I will fear no evil, for you are with me, your rod and staff they comfort me! The Psalmist says that God’s rod comforts him. Jesus supported when he explained to his disciples how he will send the Holy Spirit as a comforter.
John 14:26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost whom the Father will send in my name. He shall teach you all things and bring all things to your remembrance whatsoever I have said unto you.
Apart from comforting, the Holy Spirit was given the role to teach us in the way we should go by revealing great and might things to us. He is to teach us all things – this include our children too.
Our greatest desires as parents is to live a long life that we may sherpherd our children in the right way to go. This was the case with Jesus too when he was ascending back to heaven. John 14:18 Jesus says that I will not leave you as orphans. If we do not allow the Holy Spirit in our children’s lives as well, does it mean we have left them as orphans?
Why do we need the Holy Spirit to parent?
Easton’s bible dictionary refers to the comforter also an an advocate, helper, defender, strengthener, one who is summoned to plead a cause. Can you imagine the Holy Spirit pleading a case to your child when he wants to make an err? Wouldn’t that just be awesome?
This is verified in Jude 1:24 Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling (falling) and to present you blameless before the presence of His glory with great joy to the only God.
In 2 Timothy 3:16 All scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for reproof, for correction and for training in righteousness. This gives us further proof that the breath of God is the Holy Spirit and will assist us in training and for corrective purposes.Yes our children can be taught by the Spirit of the Lord! Let us look at Isaiah 54:13 All your children will be taught by the Lord, and great will be their peace.
This is the Promise of Eternal Life to our children
God commands our children to obey us because He wants us to train them according to His will. This is so that it maybe well with them , which means they shall have life in abundance both here on earth and in heaven.
John 1:1-4 In Him (the Word) was life. There are several instances in the bible too that the Word has been reffered to as Jesus Christ (John 1:14), and Jesus came to give life in abundance and sent the Holy Spirit when He left in His place. Jesus instructs his disciples to let the children go to Him. In the same manner, we need to let our children be taught be the Holy Spirit. He will give them life for the Kingdom of God belongs to them. The Holy Spirit gives life.
John 6:63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The Words that i have spoken to you are Spirit and are life.
Isaiah 44;3-4 For I will pour water on him who is thirsty, And floods on the dry ground; I will pour My Spirit on your descendants, And My blessing on your offspring;
Job 33:4 For the Spirit of God has made me,and the breath of the Almighty gives me life. Elihu; Job’s friend says that, that is what has made him and given him life too. So we train our children in righteousness as we let the Holy Spirit in to give them life.
Proverbs 23:13-14 Do not withhold discipline from a child, if you strike him with a rod, he will not die. If you strike him with a rod, you will save his soul from Sheol. (Note the repetition) Sheol is a Hebrew word referring to a place of the darkness to which the dead go. It is also called Hades or more known to us as hell.
The rod; the Holy Spirit will give the child wisdom to choose between right and wrong. (Proverbs 29:15). He will draw our children hearts’ to believe in Christ. He who hears my word, and believes Him that sent me, has eternal life, and comes not into judgement but has passed out of death into life.(John 6:44, 5:24) When we teach our children and they listen to us, then they believe in Jesus Christ it shall be well with them and indeed they shall live long that is life eternal.
That is why we are called to discipline our children in order to have hope and not to set our hearts in putting them to eternal death (Proverbs 19:18). When we do so, our children will give us rest and our hearts will be delightful (Proverbs 29:17).
We can invite the Holy Spirit to our children through prayers and the Word of God. This is inviting God Himself to teach them. Remember the bible tell us in 1 John 5:7 For there are three that bear record in Heaven; the Father, the Word and the Holy Spirit. And these three are one. Therefore the guidance of the Word is the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
The Word of God is readily available for us. The most important way to allow the Holy Spirit to be at work in our children is to introduce them to the scriptures.
We shall be posting topics on how to introduce our children to scriptures. Please keep following us and share with other parents. The most important aspect of this, is that it will enable us to be proactive rather than reacting after the child has erred.
As Chip Ingram puts it in His book – Effective Parenting in Defective World, we should not be easily guided by the land mines we want our kids to avoid but mould the character we want them to develop.
Ephesians 6:4 Fathers do not exasperate your children bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. Read also Deuteronomy 6:5. Can God be able to say of us like He did of Abraham in Genesis 18:19, “I know him, He will command his children in the ways of God?”