One of my earliest memories from children’s Sunday School is rushing to memorize scripture before church on Sunday morning. Every week, our teacher taught scripture for children’s behavior. We got a new verse to memorize each week. Inevitably, I waited until the following Saturday evening or Sunday morning to learn it.
Guess how many of these verses I remember today? None of them – at least not with credit to children’s Sunday School. Scripture memory is a handy tool for those difficult moments in life, but it’s more important to talk about scripture together. We have to talk to our children about our faith in a way that integrates with the rest of our lives.
When you talk to your kids about the Bible, don’t make it like school. After all, we don’t need an academic approach to faith. We need an open-hearted willingness to share our faith stories with our children on a random Tuesday afternoon or Saturday morning. If you want your kids to adopt the family faith for themselves, you have to show them why it matters to you. Don’t expect the church to do that for you!
So go ahead and teach scripture to help with your children’s behavior, but remember to talk about what the verses mean to you, too.
What does God say about raising a child?
The Bible has lots to say about raising a child, but the most famous verse is found in Proverbs 22:6. It says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”
Where in the Bible does it say to discipline your child?
The Bible most often talks about God’s discipline. That’s still helpful, if we remember that God loves us like a perfect parent. If we model our parenting after God’s love, we are doing pretty great!
Hebrews 12:11 says, “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”
Ephesians 6:4 reminds us, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”
Hebrews 12: 6 also says this about God’s discipline: “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”
How to Teach Scripture for Children’s Behavior
Before we dig into some easy memory verses, here is how you can best teach scripture to kids.
Kids learn scripture best through song.
Most scripture that I learned by heart was through music. Some of it I learned in children’s choir and musicals, and other verses I learned as a teenager singing praise music at church.
Here is a great resource for teaching scripture to children with music.
Context matters a lot, so teach it when you present scripture.
Context is so important. The bible was never meant to be read one verse at a time, out of context. Remember, the numbers didn’t even used to be there!
When you talk with kids about scripture, make sure they know who wrote the book (if scholars know) and who was the intended audience.
Also, show your kids what happened before that moment in scripture and what happened after next.
Teach your children that scripture is not a weapon.
Scripture is a gift of love to us, and it should be treated that way. Never use the Bible as a justification for your prejudices. I find that most often, when people use the Bible as a way to alienate groups of people, it’s because they’re ignoring context, authorship and audience.
It really is this simple: how would Jesus treat this person? What would Jesus want me to teach my child about other people who are different from us?
Teach your kids why God gives us boundaries in scripture.
First, notice the audience and the context. Is this an instruction for us today, or a boundary for a specific group of people in a certain time period? Who is the author, and what was their motivation?
For example, Leviticus 19:27 says, “Do not cut the hair at the sides of your head or clip off the edges of your beard.”
Why doesn’t anyone memorize that one? Because it wasn’t written for us. It was written for the Jewish priests in a very specific period of time.
But God does give ALL OF US instruction in the Bible that stands the test of time, and you know it when you hear it.
Teach your children that God gives us boundaries because He loves us. He doesn’t want us to get hurt. Just like parents have rules, God gives us boundaries to keep us safe.
What does the Bible say about behavior?
Here is some of the handiest scripture for children’s behavior. Hopefully these verses provide a touchstone for you when you’re discussing behavior with your kids.
But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.
Note: my kids love the Fruit of the Spirit song.
Trust in the Lord with all of your heart. Lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.
1 John 4:19
We love because he first loved us.
This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind.
I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.
1 Peter 5:7
Casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
Do everything without grumbling or arguing…
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.
Be kind and loving to each other. Forgive each other just as God forgave you in Christ.