Many of us here find that one of our central callings right now is the regular discipline of young children. Some of you have passed this stage and are being challenged in other ways, but you still need to impart this skill and understanding to your older children. And some of you do not yet have families of your own, but Lord willing, you will one day. I want to remind you of the basics of discipline this morning through the form of our liturgy. When a child needs to be disciplined (and by that I mean spanked or singled out for an exhortation or admonition about a particular issue), it should be our normal practice to imitate God’s dealings with us here: We should Call the child to us in private (if possible). The sin must be named and addressed and confessed. This needs to include prayer. The child has probably sinned against you or someone else, but we need to always make it clear that the greatest offense is to God. After full confession, full forgiveness must be declared, and you the parent are authorized to tell your child that he/she is forgiven through Jesus. And it is important that Scripture be part of this process, explaining in simple terms what the child should and should not do. Communion always follows this: hug your child, laugh with your child. Make sure that full fellowship is restored. Finally, Commission your child: send your child back into the world in obedience. Often this will include the duty of making restitution. This is an oft neglected duty by young and old alike. If something is stolen it must be replaced, if something is broken it must be fixed or replace. If someone has been mistreated, forgiveness must be sought and love extended.
Our children are hypocrisy hunters. They see you as you are with them and with their father or mother. And they see whether you really believe all that we do here is really all that important or not. And you are preaching the gospel to them every moment of every day. The only question is: which gospel are you preaching? Are you preaching the gospel of grace, that God in His mercy renews covenant with us in Jesus Christ? Or are you preaching a half-hearted gospel, a harsh gospel, or a careless gospel? As God treats you here, week after week, you must go and do likewise with your children in your families.