“He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.” Proverbs 23:14
This passage contains some of the most helpful, yet often unheeded, parental instruction. First, it equates parental love with correction, discipline, and punishment. Concern for the long term maturity of the child trumps short-term approval from the child. Secondly, the timing of the stinging correction is laid out for us. It is to be done “betimes.” This unfamiliar word expresses the ideas of “early” and “diligent.” This is valuable practical instruction. Many parents delay needed correction and punishment for their children until the behavior is out of control. They choose to ignore the bad behavior because it is either “too cute” or it simply is hard work to address it early. But even in the faithful effort to address needed correction, another frustration often arises. Children don’t always learn after the first correction, and sometimes not after the 20th correction. But a commitment to “betimes” parenting means a commitment to diligent, faithful, consistent, loving correction regardless of its perceived success. This is the way that God loves us. He loves us through faithful, sometimes painful chastening. He does not give up when the lesson is not learned the first or the 20th time. Parents, be encouraged today to apply the clear instruction of this passage. Do not be weary in obedience, and do not look for a better way.