[This Firestarter is from the version for families with children.]
In the book of Proverbs, we have the inside scoop on how to live and think. Peace runs through the wise sayings here. But there is a problem with verse 13. It seems to say that it’s OK for parents to hit their children! From it there has come a saying, “Spare the rod and spoil the child!” This apparently means, if you’re afraid of damaging a rod for punishing a child, you may have a rod in one piece by you’ll have a spoiled child!
There are lots of problems with a physical, spanking approach to this verse, especially these days when we hear of child abuse. Many times an angry parent is tempted to strike a child, not as a consequence to what a child does, but rather as an expression of frustration and anger.
So, let’s have another look at the meaning of verse 13. Take out your12 inch ruler from school. It’s a stick, isn’t it–a rod? You could use it to give someone a whack on the back, but it’s not meant for that. It’s what you use when you want to measure things in inches, or to make a line straight. You compare what you are measuring with the ruler; you draw a line with it so that a line is neat. So in a deeper sense, what this verse means is that parents are meant to hold up a measure, a ruler–not as a physical thing, but rather as a guide–something spiritual to which our actions can be measured.
Look at it this way, parents. If you have good habits and ways of living that you want to be sure that your children live by, then hold this “ruler” up to them as an example. If you don’t, then a child could be spoiled, thinking that life is just about oneself, not following the “ruler” of loving others as we would like them to be loved. When children don’t live up to the measure or ruler of what parents teach their children about proper living and loving, there are alternatives to hitting physically. As a young person, you may be “hit” by the absence of the privilege of music, or your computer or telephone because you did something wrong. The absence of these privileges that you like is meant to “strike” you so that you can think more deeply in the silence about the wisdom that your parents and teachers have about guiding you in your life.
What are Bible Breaths? Learn More…
Tuesdays are dedicated to the Old Testament books of history
and the Hebrew “Writings.”
In this season, Proverbs 20-11; 1 Kings
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