This is part two of a series of devos featured by Mark Elfstrand on The Morning Ride on WMBI, 90.1 Chicago.
Believe it or not, children want boundaries.
They want rules.
They want structure.
They even want discipline.
Of course, they’ll raise their hand at dinner time and ask you for this. But deep within their hearts, they crave the security that comes from parents who care enough to tell them where the lines are.
The natural human inclination is to bow to every whim of each child, to give them what they want. On the surface it seems cruel to withhold something a child desires. It’s so much easier to just give in or to passively ignore issues and hope they go away.
But if you think that’s what your children want, you’d be wrong.
If parents wish to establish a culture of faith in their family, their first priority is to recognize their God-assigned role as the authority in their children’s lives.
Because God wired children for authority and accountability.
Discipline and accountability are words that often strike fear in the hearts of parents. Perhaps they evoke bad memories of their own childhood, filled with abusive authority and unnecessary control.
But it isn’t the presence of authority that harms kids. It’s the misapplication of authority. In fact, God established authority structures way back in the Garden of Eden, even before the Fall of Man. He gave Adam and Eve rules, roles, and responsibility.
When sin entered Eden, the need for accountability became greater. Man needs accountability because man is a sinner. Left to our own devices, we always drift toward evil.
All through the Scriptures, from Old Testament to New, you’ll see God dealing with his people, laying down clear lines of authority.
Even in an age of grace, God hasn’t abandoned His law. Romans 13 is just one of several New Testament passages that articulate a biblical approach to authority. Paul writes that “the powers that be are ordained of God.”
So if parents wish to prepare their children for life, they must intentionally and lovingly enforce their authority. They must show them that a healthy respect for authority brings freedom.
Ephesians 5-6 outlines God’s blueprint for the family. And while each member has their roles, each member is also accountable to each other and to God. Proverbs 25:18 reminds us that an undisciplined individual is like ‘a broken down city without walls.”
Biblical, loving, consistent discipline is a gift to a child. It sends them into the world equipped to make a difference.
I’ve had conversations with many adults who grew up with little or no guidance, nobody to tell them how to live. Do you know how they feel? Unloved and alone.
To be sure, rules have no power to change a heart. Paul reminds us in Galatians that the law is like a schoolmaster. It brings us to Christ. Rules and boundaries are continual reminders to a child that his heart is sinful and tends toward rebellion, that left alone they are “prone to wander.”
When a child butts up against the consistent application of God’s law, he realizes his brokenness and his need for a Savior to rescue him. It opens the door so grace can enter in.
So don’t be afraid of rules. Seek God’s wisdom in establishing fair, biblical, and sensible boundaries in your home. Not only will you give your child a sense of self-respect, discipline, and love.
You also help point them to the Gospel.
For the complete audio message, click here.