Scripture Based Discipline

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“Discipline your son, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to his death.” Proverbs 19:18 (NIV)

Discipline. For so many it is a dirty word. Even in the Christian realm. After all, Scripture does say that it is unpleasant and painful at the time (Hebrews 12:11). But we are commanded through Scripture to discipline our children. Why? Well, quite frankly Scripture says the consequence of being undisciplined is death. Ouch. I’ll take the unpleasant and painful over death anytime. How about you?

Making Scripture-Based Rules for Your Kids

A few years ago, I noticed a homemade canvas a friend had hanging in her kitchen. It listed some family rules. They were mostly cute little sayings such as, “Eat dessert first” or “Kiss the cook”. I loved the look of it and decided to make one for my house. As I was mulling over which rules I would include, God began to speak to my heart. It was clear that He wanted two things: 1- “rules” based off Scripture and 2-“rules” for everyone in our home to follow (including adults).

He quickly brought a verse to mind: “…so it is with my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” Isaiah 55:11 (NIV) By using Scripture to discipline my children, seeds will be planted in their hearts. Seeds of God’s Word that will sprout as they are watered and nurtured, not returning empty.

I finally landed on 11 rules that are deeply based on God’s Word:

1. Forgive Freely
  • Ephesians 4:32
  • Colossians 3:13
  • Psalm 103:12
2. Have a grateful heart
  • Philippians 4:12
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:18
  • Psalm 100:4
3. Be quick to listen
  • Proverbs 8:32-34
  • James 1:19
  • Proverbs 12:15
4. Respect and obey authority
  • Romans 13:1-6
  • Proverbs 13:13
  • Ephesians 6:1
  • Ephesians 5:21
5. Work Together Kindly
  • Philippians 2:3-4
  • Ecclesiastes 4:12
  • 1 Corinthians 12:7-11
6. Speak the truth in love
  • Ephesians 4:15
  • 1 Corinthians 13:1-3
  • Zechariah 8:16
7. Encourage one another
  • Ephesians 4:29
  • Hebrews 10:25
  • Ephesians 6:19-20
8. Love with gentleness
  • James 2:12
  • Philippians 4:5
  • Galatians 5:22-23
  • 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
  • 1 Corinthians 4:18-21
9. Share our blessings
  • Acts 2:44-45
  • Acts 20:35
  • 2 Corinthians 9:7
  • Proverbs 28:27


10. Pray about everything
  • Philippians 4:6
  • 1 Peter 5:7
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:17


11. Trust God no matter what
  • Psalm 56:3
  • Psalm 20:7
  • Proverbs 3:5-6
  • Isaiah 40:28-31

(After having the rules up for some time now, I do wish I’d added one more: “Don’t complain about anything.”)

Applying Scripture to Real Life: Where The Rubber Meets the Road

Now, these rules don’t do any good if they are for decoration purposes only. God’s Word was never meant to be a pretty piece of decor. I refer to it often when disciplining the kids. My kids range in age from under a year to 7 years old; so quite frequently, I’ll just remind them by asking, “Are you speaking the truth in love?” or “Are you being quick to listen?” As we ride in the van, play outside, and simply live together, we talk about what these commandments look and sound like in real life.

Because these rules also apply to adults, I want my kids to know that God asks me to abide by them as well. And I’m quick to point out to my kids that I’m not perfect. When I blow it (especially with them; which can happen multiple times in one day), I make sure they know that I acknowledge my sin and that I am sorry.

As I discipline my kids through Scripture, my prayer constant prayer for them is: “May your roots grow down into Him and draw up nourishment from Him, so you will grow in faith, strong and vigorous in the Truth you were taught.” Colossians 2:7 (NLT)

Becky Spence is a homeschooling mama to four little blessings (ages 7, 4, 2, & 7 months). She is passionate about teaching, specifically literacy. She is the author of This Reading Mama, where she shares reading and writing activities as well as free literacy curricula and printables. You can also join This Reading Mama via Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.

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  1. This is a great list and OH, so timely today! We were dealing with telling the truth (or NOT, in our case), and we had to spend a large part of our day talking about why telling the truth was so important and what lying does to our hearts. A very long day for mommy, but I really hope the message got through in the end!

    1. Julie,
      I think we always have an area or two that we are dealing with at any time. And not just my kids. Me, too! Keep pressing on, sister. 🙂

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