The Necessity of Parental Discipline

In Hebrews 12:4–11, the writer uses the illustration of a father disciplining his son to explain the training the heavenly Father offers to His children. He writes, “God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?” (v. 7). 

The first thing to notice is that parents discipline. It is a vital necessity. Parents who love their children always discipline them. In fact, the Hebrew writer compares any child left undisciplined to a illegitimate child (v. 8). Parents . . . if you love your children you will discipline them consistently. 

What is discipline? Merriam-Webster defines it as “training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or mora character.” Compressed that simply means that discipline trains and guides children in the correct behavior. 

This is accomplished through both words and actions. The Hebrew writer states in v. 5, “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him.” Discipline is action. Reproving is a verbal process. Discipline isn’t just punishment—it is also teaching. Paul said fathers are supposed to raise their children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Eph. 6:4). 

Discipline that focuses on punishment without instruction is ineffective. But so is discipline that solely focuses on instruction without punishment and reward. Both are necessary. By the way, the Father instructs and chastises those whom He loves (v. 6). 

The reason for discipline is simple: obedience. The writer states, “Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live?” (Heb. 12:9). Parent should discipline their children with the ultimate goals of obedience, respect, and submission in mind. 

Why? Because even though in the short-term this is a painful process, it is tremendously rewarding long-term for both parent and child (vv. 10–11). It brings true righteousness. What is better than that? 

Parents . . . if you love your children, you will bring them up in the discipline of the Lord. You will train them to be obedient children so they can be useful saints. 

Don’t lose heart! It is painful now . . . but it will be worth it in the end!