To discipline a child produces wisdom, but a mother is disgraced by an undisciplined child.Proverbs 29:15 (NLT)
I had a friend who was about to become a first-time mother even though she had just moved into her 40s in age. She was excited about the prospect of having little ones, and was putting some thought into how she would raise them. One day, when we were hanging out, she expressed a thought, “I will never tell my child no,” she said. “People hear that word too much. So, my child will never hear it from me.” My wife and I tried to contain our laughter. Our son was about three years-old at the time, and we said “no” quite often. (If you’re a parent, you know how the threes go!) My thought at the time, though I didn’t say it out loud, was this kid is going to be spoiled and drive people nuts!
Perhaps you’ve met a kid like that? Imagine a child who has never been denied anything that they’ve wanted to do since they were born. Want to eat sugar for every meal? Great! Want to forgo naps and stay up late with mom and dad? Sure! You want that expensive toy? No problem! Every impulse the child has is confirmed as valid, and they are granted whatever they want. The world revolves around their wants and selfish desires.
Now, imagine this kid as an adult. They have an ego the size of Manhattan, and act like the world owes them a favor just for being alive. Yeah. I’ve met that kid.
King Solomon must have met that kid, too. He wrote, “To discipline a child produces wisdom, but a mother is disgraced by an undisciplined child.” In other words, discipline, or actually being told no, helps us gain wisdom. We begin to learn what is good for us, and what is ultimately going to hurt us. We learn that we can’t treat people like objects. We learn that we don’t always get our way. We learn that to function in society, and in the Kingdom of God, we need to put other people first. It’s that last part that is the greatest piece of wisdom.
As Christians, we are called to love others. This means we cannot act out of selfishness. We must act in kindness, mercy, and compassion towards others. The only way to do so is to deny self. It’s not about our wants. It’s not about gimme, gimme, gimme. It’s about serving our friends, family, and neighbors.