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Welcome back to Part 2 of our continuing series which we originally called “A Parent’s 5 Jobs.” If you haven’t heard that series, please check it out. I’ll include a link in the description of this episode.
This particular series is designed to dig deeper into the concepts we learned in the first series.
Last time we talked about the intricacies of how God wants us to teach our kids, but that episode isn’t required to be able to appreciate this episode. Still, knowing how to teach is desperately important for all Biblical Parents. If we don’t know how God would have us teach our kids, we won’t be able to do our next three parental responsibilities.
But more on that in a minute.
First, I’d love for you to take a minute to familiarize yourself with TruthLoveParent.com. There are so many incredible free Biblical Parenting tools at your disposal.
But we also have a store and biblical counseling options in addition to family board game suggestions, suggested books, parenting quotes, shareable images, and so much more.
If you’ve never visited. You really need to check it out. And while you’re there, you can download our free episode notes, read our free transcripts, and get access to a bunch of other related content so that you can become a better Biblical Parent.
And since Biblical Parenting is the goal, let’s talk about the second responsibility that God has for us.
The goal of our teaching is to impart biblical knowledge while helping our kids understand it and live it out. But teaching is not merely the impartation of the knowledge, it’s an impassioned urging — a strong expectation — that our children must learn it, understand it, and live it so that they may grow up into Christ.
Good teachers aren’t okay when their students don’t learn the information. And that’s where our second Biblical Parenting Responsibility comes in.
A teacher who simply spits out information in order to earn a paycheck has no vested interest in her students being changed by the information she’s scattering in front of them. Well, unless — of course — her income is threatened by students who don’t pass their SAT’s. Then she may care to a certain degree.
Anyway, but a teacher who desperately cares that his students learn this vital information in the short time they have to learn it is going to constantly assess his students to determine how well they’re learning the material, and — if he discovers that learning is not taking place — he will reteach it. The point is, he’s not going to pretend that the student didn’t miss 50% of the test questions. He’s going to mark them wrong and likely use the failing grade to help the child accept that he doesn’t know the material the way he should.
And this is a practical example of what it looks like to reprove.
Now, I recognize that the words “reproof” and “reprove” are not common words in our vocabularies. So we’re going to take the necessary time to make certain we’re familiar with the biblical terms that illustrate a robust understanding of reproof.
But I want to also remind you of the word that I used to explain this concept. In the Parent’s 5 Jobs Series we called this the Interpretation Step.
You see, when someone takes a test, they write down what they believe are the right answers. The vast majority of students would’t write down an answer if they absolutely believed it to be wrong. What’s the point?
So, that means that whether the child received an “A” on the test or an “F,” at some point while taking the test, they both were fairly confident of their answers.
But one of them was more wrong than the other.
And that’s what the Interpretation Step is all about. It’s about helping our kids recognize that even though they thought they were doing the right thing, they weren’t. Even though their actions and words may have felt right, they were — in fact — wrong.
It’s about helping them reinterpret what they did in light of what is true.
“No, hitting your brother is not an acceptable response.”
“But he called me a name!”
“It doesn’t matter. Hitting is not the right way to deal with his unkindness.”
And then — if you’re a Biblical Parent — you help your child learn, understand, and apply what the Bible has to say about such situations.
Le’s put it this way, if teaching is educating our kids in what is right and what is wrong, then reproof is confronting our children when they’re wrong.
And — as you can tell — reproof is always going to involve more teaching. You will likely have to revisit lessons you’ve already taught, and you’re probably going to have the chance to teach new concepts that also apply to the situation, but you won’t be doing your job if you’re not teaching.
In fact, reproof — in and of itself — is teaching. But it’s more than teaching. It’s teaching, convicting, and warning all mixed into one.
The Bible not only teaches us how to reprove, but It’s constantly modeling reproof for us. Simple examples of reproof in the Bible include every time the biblical authors under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit point to an action or word or feeling or lifestyle and say it’s a sin.
For example, in James 4:3 James is explaining why we don’t receive the things from God that we ask. He says, “You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.”
“You ask with wrong motives.”
Teaching says, “When you ask God for things, ask only for those things that you can use to glorify Him.”
Reproof says, “Your motives were wrong when you asked God for that thing because you only wanted to satisfy yourself with it.”
Whereas teaching is theoretical, reproof is actual.
I hope all of those examples and restatements were helpful.
So, let’s take a look at some of the biblical words God’s uses to illustrate reproof.
The first Greek word we’re going to learn is elegchō. This word is translated as convict, convicted, convicts, expose, exposed, rebuke, refute, reprimanded, reprove, reproved, and show...fault.
In John 3:20 Jesus says, “For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.”
In our False Parents series we talked about the importance of revealing our children’s sin. Sinners naturally don’t want to have their sins exposed, they don’t want to be reproved, they don’t want to be told that they’re wrong.
But that’s exactly what we’re supposed to do. In Matthew 18:15, Jesus says, “If your brother sins, go and show him his fault.”
And I Timothy 5:20 commands, “Those who continue in sin, rebuke in the presence of all, so that the rest also will be fearful of sinning.”
This is the same Greek word used to describe the ministry of the Holy Spirit. In John 16:8 we read, “When [the Holy Spirit] comes, [He] will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment.”
This is the second time we’re learning that Christians are to participate in the work of the Holy Spirit. Last time we are to comfort as He does, and this time we see that we can convict as He does.
And it’s this fact that all Christians are supposed to participate in reproving and convicting each other that was the basis for our “Parenting Like the Holy Spirt” episode.
And it’s this convicting element of reproof that makes this stage of parenting the stage where we often have to give consequences. Proverbs 29:15 is a perfect example of how reproof and consequences go hand in hand. “The rod and reproof give wisdom, But a child who gets his own way brings shame to his mother.”
Don’t we want our kids to be wise? Well, then they need both reproof and consequences when they sin.
Now, I’m not saying that there needs to be a tangible consequence for every single sin. I do believe that it doesn’t matter how sorry a murderer is and how certain they are they will never do it again, their sin deserves consequences.
Yes, there is a great level of subjectivity concerning the degree and seriousness as the kind of consequences parents are to give. But our Proverbs passage makes it clear that children who do not experience consequences along with their reproof will only bring shame to her parents.
And this coupling of reproof and consequence is why warning is such an integral part of this parenting responsibility.
Let’s consider hupodeiknumi. In the NASB, this Greek word is translated show, showed, warn, and warned.
In Luke 12:4-5 Jesus says, “I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that have no more that they can do. 5 But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him!”
Because Jesus loves His creation, He warns us of the consequences of our choices.
Yes, reproof often involves consequences, but it also requires that we warn our children of future consequences if they don’t learn the lesson God has for them.
But there’s another word that beautifully synthesizes the ideas of teaching and warning, and that word is . . .
Most of you know that I have my masters degree in Biblical Counseling and that I’m a member of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors. Well, that organization used to be called NANC — the National Association of Nouthetic Counselors. The word nouthetic was coined by Dr. Jay Adams as a way of describing biblical counseling, and it came from the Greek word noutheteō.
When you find it in the Scriptures, noutheteō is most often translated admonish and admonishing, but one time the translators rendered it “give…instruction.”
I Corinthians 4:14 illustrates this concept well. Paul told the Corinthian church, “I do not write these things to shame you, but to admonish you as my beloved children.”
And Colossians 3:16 commands, “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”
Merriam-Webster defines admonish in this way, “to express warning or disapproval especially in a gentle, earnest, or solicitous manner.”
Admonishment is teaching coupled with warning designed to steer someone away from the very real immediate and future consequences.
And all throughout I hope you’ve seen the undercurrent of love. Even though people hate to be told they’re wrong, and even though many people weaponize reproof in order to hurt the individual they’re reproving, God is showing us that biblical reproof, warning, and admonishment is done out of a heart of love for the other person’s best interest.
And — while we’re at it — consequences need to be given out of love as well.
But that loving reproof doesn’t mean that it’s not stern or even harsh.
To illustrate this point, let’s consider the word . . .
Even though elegchō can be translated rebuke, the Greek word epitimaō can as well. In fact, it’s translated rebuke, rebuked, and rebuking the most, but it’s also translated warned, sternly telling, and sternly told.
This word is frequently used to describe how Jesus rebuked evil spirits, but He also rebuked winds, a fever, and His disciples.
Multiple times in the Gospels we hear Jesus telling an individual He just healed not to tell other people Who He was. For example, in Mathew 16:20 we read that “He warned the disciples that they should tell no one that He was the Christ.”
But the word “warned” is the exact same word translated “rebuked” in Mark 9:25, “When Jesus saw that a crowd was rapidly gathering, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, ‘You deaf and mute spirit, I command you, come out of him and do not enter him again.’”
And, yes, we Christians are commanded to rebuke people. In II Timothy 4:2 we read, “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.” And, yes, we have talked about the words “reprove” and “exhort” in this study as well.
But let’s consider the usage in Matthew 20:31. In this passage two blind men are calling out to Christ, and “The crowd sternly told them to be quiet.”
A similar rendering appears in Mark and Luke when Blind Bartimaeus calls to Christ and the crowd sternly tells him to be quiet.
The point is that reproof in the form of rebuke may have to be strong.
When Jesus rebuked Peter, He said, “Get behind me Satan!”
When Jesus cleansed the temple He zealously commanded the sellers to get out.
But this makes all the sense in the world.
If you’re visiting the Grand Canyon and your young child runs toward the precipice to get a better look, you’re probably going to raise your voice to warn him of his impending doom.
By the way, we have an episode that answers the question “Is It a Sin to Yell at Your Kids?” I suggest you check it out. Yelling is not always a sin. It can be done out of love for the person at whom you’re raising your voice. And the Grand Canyon example is just one of them.
It makes perfect sense that someone in repeated and unrepentant sin would need a stern rebuke. They have already not listened to the impassioned teaching, and they’ve decided that their sin was better than God’s righteousness. Impassioned reproof may definitely be in order.
So, today we’ve learned that reproof has many different layers that need to be understood if we’re going to do it well.
Reproof is the process of telling someone that they’re wrong, and it often involves giving consequences. Reproof also involves warning our kids about the future consequences they will receive if they don’t submit to the Lord. And reproof is often just as stern and impassioned as our teaching needs to be. Spiritual truth is literally a life or death issue.
That doesn’t mean we have to be grim, unfriendly people all the time. But it does mean that when someone digs their heels in and consistently rejects God’s truth, it may be very important to transition from lighthearted and low-key reproof to something more attention-grabbing. Still, regardless of whether our reproof is calm or passionate, both our rod and reproof must be motivated by love for God and others. It’s not about us.
And — I shouldn’t have to say this — but I want to remind us that biblical reproof always has to come from the Scriptures.
Most parents know how to reprove all too well, the problem is that they tell their child that he or she was wrong because the child disagreed with or contradicted or disobeyed mom or dad. It doesn’t really have anything to do with God and His Word, mom and dad just don’t like being ignored.
In conclusion, I want to share to very important passages from Ezekiel. We discussed one of them briefly in our False Parents Series. In fact, I included a bunch of New Testament commands that God’s people be actively involved in reproof.
But allow me to read Ezekiel 3:17-18 and chapter 33, verses 8 and 9.
“Son of man, I have appointed you a watchman to the house of Israel; whenever you hear a word from My mouth, warn them from Me. 18 When I say to the wicked, ‘You will surely die,’ and you do not warn him or speak out to warn the wicked from his wicked way that he may live, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand.”
And verses 8 and 9 read, “When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you will surely die,’ and you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require from your hand. 9 But if you on your part warn a wicked man to turn from his way and he does not turn from his way, he will die in his iniquity, but you have delivered your life.”
We parents cannot hope to glorify God in our parenting if we don’t help our kids understand when they’re wrong. It may be wrong actions, words, feelings, thoughts, desires, or beliefs . . . we must reprove them.
We must help them interpret their choices in light of God’s revealed truth. We must help our kids submit to God’s reality when they’ve chosen to walk in their own delusion. That means that reproof, warning, admonishment, and rebuke need to be tools we can use well.
Please share this episode on your favorite social media outlets so that more Biblical Parents can learn about the beautiful intricacies of Christ-honoring reproof.
And never forget that I and the TLP Counselors would love to help you with your unique family troubles. Just email us at Counselor@TruthLoveParent.com or call us at (828) 423-0894.
I hope you’ll join us next time as we once again open God’s Word to discover how to parent our children for life and godliness.
To that end, we’ll be answering the question, “How Does God Want Me to Correct My Child?”
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