My three children have a number of years between them. Six and a half years separates my first from my second; the third one came seven and half years later. People used to comment that with the age spread, I probably would not have too many occurrences of them not getting along. Wrong! Since we homeschooled, they had plenty of opportunity to get on each other’s nerves and irritate one another.
My husband and I resolved to apply Biblical law to the predictable outbursts of fighting and disagreement. However, first, we had to examine our own thinking to make sure that we were working out of a Biblical worldview rather than expediency. It would have been easy to yell at them and tell them to knock it off, but if we wanted to see godly change, we would have to apply godly discipline and instruction.
Here are a few of the Scripture passages we utilized along with a bit of commentary:
- (Mark 12:31) Love your neighbor as yourself. We pointed out that brothers and sisters qualified as neighbors and that this second of the two great commandments came after loving God with all we had and were.
- (Ephesians 6:4) Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. We pointed out that if fathers were not to provoke children to anger, certainly brothers and sisters should not provoke each other. Here is an example of what applies to the greater also applies to the lesser.
- (Romans 12:10) Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. We encouraged them to make their behavior their priority, being less concerned about how they were being treated.
- (Matthew 5:23-24) “Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.” We pointed out that there was a necessity to make things right between brothers and sisters. God calls us to be right with one another before we make any offerings to Him.
- (The Lord’s Prayer) Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. I realize that more often than not, the word “debts” is used. However, for parenting purposes and family life in general, the word trespass is more to the point. Live with people in close quarters (home, bedroom, sometime a bed) and there are bound to be conflicts. Keeping short accounts is mandatory for a peaceful home life.
What is interesting about this list is that it also works for married couples and people who interact with each other in day-to-day life. It is just that the home is the best place to teach these lessons, because there will be plenty of opportunity and plenty of practice!