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8 Bible Verses Not about Family that are Still about Family

  • Amy Green Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
8 Bible Verses Not about Family that are Still about Family

If you do a quick search of your Bible on parenting and family issues, you’re not going to come up with many direct results. Sure, there is a brief word of instruction to parents and children in Ephesians. Proverbs has some gems about what to do (and not do) to live a wise life. And you can find dozens of examples of terrible relationships between siblings, parents and kids, and even extended families—the patriarchs had some serious family issues that we should definitely not follow. It’s easy to wonder if God has much to say at all about issues you face with your family.

Maybe where we really need to go are to some passages that teach us how to live with the people closest to us…even if they don’t use the keywords we’re used to. Here are a few passages that have a lot to teach us about surviving stressful holidays, interacting with kids who seem to come from different planets, and dealing with the tough stuff as a family.

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Ephesians 4:26-27

Ephesians 4:26-27

“In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.”

This verse sounds a lot like God’s warning to Cain way back in Genesis 4 (the earliest family dysfunction story out there). When he saw how angry Cain was at his brother Abel, He said, “If you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” We know how that story ended: Cain killed his brother.

Things hopefully haven’t reached murder level around your house, but the point is still there: when we let anger fester instead of giving or seeking forgiveness, it’s a chance for the sin to get even worse. Make it a family practice to address issues right away. Model being quick to forgive, too, especially if you have kids. The “sundown policy” of not going a full day holding onto resentment is a good one for family relationships.

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Colossians 3:12

Colossians 3:12

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”

It’s easy to think of this list as some abstract qualities that we know good Christians should have. It’s a lot harder to break it down and ask: when do I need to be compassionate when other family members are gossiping about Aunt Karen at the family reunion? How can I act in humility after I’ve shouted at my child for having too much destructive energy on a rainy day? What does it look like to be clothed with kindness, gentleness, and patience—not just at church, but in the carpool lane, the kitchen, the family group text?

But those are really great questions to ask, and to put thought into answering.

Sometimes the people who are closest to us are the hardest to love well. We can fall into old habits and patterns of blame. But God chose us, loves us, and calls us to be holy. He asks us to go after all the characteristics in this verse…but He also gives us the ability to do so. Regularly pray for these qualities to be on display in your family, and check in from time to time to see which of those areas you could grow in.

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Psalm 16:6

Psalm 16:6

“The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.”

As a teenager, I remember our youth pastor reading this verse and reminding us that it was an overwhelming blessing from God that our parents took us to church (even when we didn’t want to go), made rules to keep us safe (even when we didn’t agree with them), and prayed for us. At the time, my sixteen-year-old self was skeptical, but looking back, I see the truth: clear boundaries and God-focused traditions are an amazing gift.

This isn’t just true of teenagers—it’s easy to take for granted things like a caring church community, habits of family prayer, and a legacy of faith. No family is perfect, and you won’t be able to describe yours as “pleasant” all of the time, but remember that you’re building boundaries, expectations, and commitments to your spouse, kids, and even extended family, to be part of God’s blessing to them. That gives a greater purpose even to daily things like curfews and chore charts.

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Acts 17:26-27

Acts 17:26-27

“From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.”

These words from Paul—and every other Biblical passage reminding us that God is totally in control of every aspect of our lives—should give us a lot of comfort in the hard times. No, you didn’t get to choose your parents (or in-laws) or hand-pick your kids’ personalities, or decide exactly how close that problem relative would live to you…but God did. He put people around you for a reason, especially those who are related to you.

Because of that, we can trust that God knows what He’s doing by dropping us into the family He did. He’s got a plan, and He might be using you as part of that plan to show His love to your family members in a special way. Try to remember that the next time you’re stuck talking politics with your overbearing Uncle Stan at Thanksgiving.

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Matthew 5:43-46

Matthew 5:43-46

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get?”

On the surface, this doesn’t seem to apply to family at all. Unless you’re from a very dysfunctional family, hopefully you wouldn’t include many relatives’ names in a list of your enemies.

That said…all of us can think of family members who we deeply disagree with or who frustrate us, often in the same way over and over again. Even in our immediate families, there can be those who just seem to know how to irritate us, whether intentionally or accidentally. And, of course, there are the family members we consider friends, the ones we get along with and understand. But here, Jesus says that if we only love those who love us…we’re not doing it right.

This isn’t talking about cases where there’s a need to set boundaries or cut off abusive relationships, but it should remind us that it’s not enough to just tolerate our difficult family members. We’re called to forgive and seek out and love them, even—maybe especially—when that’s hard.

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Revelation 3:8

Revelation 3:8

“I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.”

This one is for you, mama whose kid had a meltdown in the middle of the grocery store right in front of the Instagram-perfect friend with her cart full of organic food. This is for you, dad who comes home from work exhausted and short-tempered because you’re worried there won’t be enough to pay all the bills. For the sister who hasn’t heard from her brother for years, the adult child who wrestles with how to best care for a parent with Alzheimer’s, the couple grieving the baby who only lived a few hours.

God knows that you have little strength. And yet, like this church in Revelation, He’s holding onto you and honoring the fact that you’re still here. You’re clinging to hope. You’re taking small steps of obedience. You’re asking the Holy Spirit to pray for you when you don’t have the words. And ultimately, the promise of an open door means that first, your salvation is secure. The ultimate ending of the story is never in question. But also, God has given you opportunities to trust Him and show His glory to the world. Maybe this is one of them, whether it’s the chaos of daily life or a moment of tragedy. Just keep holding on, because He’s always holding on to you, even when you feel weak.

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Romans 12:6-8

Romans 12:6-8

“We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.”

One of the things I love about this passage is that it affirms that we’re all different. If there are times you just don’t understand where your mom is coming from…that’s no surprise based on the Bible. If you sometimes can’t believe your sons are actually related to each other because they’re so wildly opposite…that’s part of God’s good design. Yes, sometimes those differences in personality and temperament can lead to conflict, but it’s part of what makes the church and the world in general so amazing.

Embrace that diversity in your family wherever you can. If you have kids, make sure they know how God made them special and affirm the talents they have. Be okay with the fact that your relationship with God doesn’t look exactly like another family member’s. Throw yourself into the areas God has gifted you to serve your family and the church without comparing yourself to others…and help your loved ones do the same. 

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Philippians 2:3-4

Philippians 2:3-4

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”

These verses were given to the church as a whole, but if you zoom down from a church family to your family, it should be pretty obvious how they apply. It’s so easy to view life—and the to-do list, the report cards, the Christmastime conflicts over finances or travel—through a self-focused lens. How can I make my voice heard? Why can’t everyone see my plan is best? But we have the best example of selfless humility to follow—Jesus, who gave up absolutely everything for us. That’s what we’re called to do for one another, especially members of our families.

These are great verses to memorize as a family, because we need the reminder on almost a daily basis. Being more like Jesus is hard. Sometimes it means changing our attitudes or forgiving without being asked or letting someone else take the last piece of pizza. But it’s always worth it.

Amy Green lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota and actually enjoys long road trips with her family. She blogs at themondayheretic.wordpress.com about faith, life, and culture.

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