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Before You Use the Rod of Reproof

By Dr. Don and Debbi Dunlap
Pastoral Counselor
If parents consistently and biblically implement the rod of reproof, God will reward their efforts.

Family Counseling Ministries -

The writer of Proverbs 22:6 explains, “Rebellion is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of reproof will drive it far from him.” Christian parents often employ interesting interpretations of this verse.


They seem to think that it means, “Rebellion is bound up in the heart of a child, but a few minutes in “time-out,” or a good discussion, or a positive self-imagewill drive it far from him or her.” Another take on this scripture is, “Rebellion is bound up in the heart of a child, but lots of fun activities will prevent him or her from being bored, or getting into trouble. If we keep our children busy, and distracted, they won’t have time to disobey.”


Nowhere in the Bible do we find the concept of “time out” as a disciplinary measure.

God’s promise to parents who choose to implement the rod, as identified in Proverbs 22, is the peaceable fruit of righteousness. The rod of reproof is effective only when parents apply it in a biblical manner. We should not use the rod thoughtlessly or carelessly. We should take several definitive steps when our children disobey. Before we correct disobedient children, we should ask ourselves the following questions:

1.      Was my child being childish, or rebellious? (There is a difference.)


Were my instructions clear? Was my child’s disobedience the result of a misunderstanding? Was my child overly tired or physically unable to carry out my command? Tiredness is no excuse for disobedience. However, if we have kept a child up past his or her bedtime or naptime, for example, we should consider that fact in our disciplinary decision. However, parents should not tolerate rudeness or disrespect under any circumstances.


2.       Was my child reacting to me personally?

Did I provoke my child to wrath by wronging him or her? Have I been inconsistent in fulfilling my God-given   responsibilities to him or her? Is my child reflecting my sinful attitudes back to me? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then we should confess our sin to the child and ask for forgiveness before disciplining him or her.


We should be careful, however, not to give the impression that we are apologizing in any way, for spanking the child. We are carrying out God’s command each time we apply the rod of reproof for rebellion and disobedience. We are responsible, however, to apply it appropriately.


When we neglect this step, we cause our children to miss the convicting, cleansing power of God’s rod of reproof, because they are angry and bitter toward us. After we have repented of our sinful attitudes and/or behavior, our children are more emotionally and spiritually receptive to us as God’s instruments of correction in their lives.


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