Were you ever spanked as a child? I was. Depending on the severity of the offense, my parents would either use their hand, or if I did something that was really bad, they would use the dreaded belt. Most of the time, I would agree that I deserved what I got. I did something wrong, and I deserved to be punished. I used to think it was that simple. But now I understand that their punishment for me was more out of love than anger; that their desire was to discipline me so that I would learn and grow, not that I would suffer. Proverbs chapter 23 verses 13 and 14 puts it this way:
"Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish him with a rod, he will not die. Punish him with a rod and save his soul from death."
You see, God approves of a parent disciplining their child. Probably because often times he needs to discipline us. Not because he wants to hurt us, but as proverbs says, he wants to “save our soul from death”. The current trend in our society is that most any form of physical punishment amounts to abuse. But proverbs teaches us otherwise. It says that if you punish a child with a rod, he will not die. But instead, the punishment may save his soul from death. Whether children or believers want to admit it or not, we need guidance. Sometimes that guidance comes in the form of discipline - even physical discipline. And I would submit to you that disciplining a child out of love is not a form of abuse, but it is an act of love which may ultimately save the child’s soul from death.
When my parents used to spank me, they would often say, “this is going to hurt me more than it is going to hurt you”. In my heart I used to roll my eyes as if to say, “Yeah right. I’m the one being spanked. I’m the one who will feel the pain. How can it possibly hurt you more than it will hurt me?” But now I understand the sentiment behind that saying. Punishment out of love can be painful to the one doing the punishing. They may not want to cause you physical pain, but it is truly for your own good. If they didn’t carry out the punishment, you may begin to believe that there are no consequences to your actions. But when we are punished, we learn that there is. And in learning so, whether the discipline comes from God or our parents, we learn the truth behind the proverb; that being corrected now may ultimately save our soul from death. We learn that being punished now, may ultimately train us to avoid future calamity.