as you are to them.” Desmond Tutu
After the dedication of his baby brother in church, little Johnny sobbed all the way home in the back seat of the car. His father asked him three times what was wrong. Finally, the boy blubbered, “That pastor said he wanted us brought up in a Christian home, and I want to stay with you guys!”
The vital importance of family is seen early on in Scripture within the provisions of the Mosaic covenant. Two of the Ten Commandments deal with maintaining the cohesiveness of the family. The 5th commandment regarding honoring parents is meant to preserve the authority of parents in family matters. The 7th commandment prohibiting adultery protects the sanctity of marriage. From these two commandments flow all of the various other stipulations within the Mosaic Law which seek to protect marriage and the family. The health of the family was so important to God that it was codified into the national covenant of His chosen people, Israel.
It takes God’s grace, work and commitment to have a Christian home that is more than one merely in name. It won’t just happen. And there are countless sources of advice out there. Many define a successful family as one that communicates or where everyone gets along. Others define it as a place where the family lives comfortably. But God designed marriage and the family, we wisely then begin with His definition of success.
It’s a privilege to welcome my good friend, James Hauser, to Grace Church today. James is the regional director for Youth for Christ in SE Wisconsin. He’s also one of the missionaries our church supports. For the next six Sundays James will be unpacking for us a biblical worldview on the family. So, what is a successful family?
A successful home has faith as its foundation. Success begins in Scripture with both husband and wife having a personal relationship with Christ. It’s so vital that one of the few exceptions for the dissolution of a marriage is when an unbeliever abandons it. When both know the Lord, they work from the same blueprint. Can you imagine attempting to build a house with different sets of blueprints? That’s what it’s like if both don’t have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. This doesn’t always happen. Sometimes one partner comes to Christ later in life or violates Scripture and marries an unbeliever. The Bible makes provision for that. It’s best though to begin with a solid foundation. Having a husband and wife with a relationship to Christ is the place to begin.
A successful home is built with commitment. It takes commitment to persevere together through inevitable trials to make a family successful. Both spouses being committed to the marriage must come first. The marriage must have priority even over the children and they must not allow them to be a place of division.
Marriage is a reflection of Christ’s relationship with His Church. God made Adam and Eve in His own image. A successful family reflects God’s love because God is love (1 Jn 4:8). Though we’re not perfect or holy like Him, we’re to imitate Him in our relationships, especially the marital one.
Think of how that should change your relationship with your spouse if you behaved as if you are Jesus to your spouse? Think of how it changes your relationship with your children if you work through that you are Jesus to them? Ephesians 5:1 commands us, “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.” In our marriages and families, we’re saying, “I will do all that is in my power to love you even when you fail me and to love you even if you don’t love me. I will seek to love you as God has loved me. I am committed to you.” It’s not easy. It takes God’s grace and power. Yet, this is how God loves us and it’s how we are commanded to love.
A successful home takes time. You won’t have a successful family without spending time together. There’s no substitute for time. In our busy lives, family time must be a priority. It won’t happen without scheduling it and by carving out specific times for your spouse and family.
God’s Word says that we must learn how to number our days (Ps. 90:12). This means that we need to understand that time is a precious commodity. All of us know how to number our years, God reminds us that every day is so precious that we should treasure it and number it as valuable for our lives. How valuable is an hour? Ask the businessperson whose flight was delayed for an hour and missed an appointment in another city. How valuable is a minute? Ask the man who had a heart attack and the person sitting next to him knew CPR. How valuable is a second? Ask the person who hesitated for 1 second before swerving to avoid an oncoming car in his lane. How valuable is a fraction of a second? Ask the L.A. Spurs who were beaten by the Lakers in a playoff game with 4/10 of just 1 second left on the clock.
Husbands, do you love your wives? Wives, do you love your husbands? Give them your time! Parents, do you love your children? Give them your time. Love is not spelled T-H-I-N-G-S. It’s spelled T-I-M-E! There will always be something else to do or somewhere else to be. Learn to say no to some of the good things in life so you can have God’s best. It means saying ‘Yes’ to the Lord and ‘no’ to others, including our boss, friends, and others.
Fifty years from now which is going to more important: Spending time with your family or watching a TV sitcom, scanning your phone or running around with your friends? Not one person on their deathbed has said, “I wish I’d spent more time at work making more money.”
A successful home plan for tomorrow today. God has a multi-generational plan, yet most Christian families barely survive one generation of faith. Genesis 2:4 teaches that the Bible is summarized as a book of generations. We won’t understand God’s plan without understanding that His plan unfolds for generations. The gospel and a biblical worldview are to be passed on. It’s a biblical mandate and shames our one-generational approach of only blessing individuals.
Christian parents need a long game. We’re not raising children, we’re raising our grandchildren’s parents. How do we want our grandchildren raised? Living in the perspective of tomorrow must alter how we parent today. Success always begins with God and His perspective.
Can we help you spiritually? Can we help you know Jesus better? Please check out more resources on our church's web page, Gracechurchwi.org. Or, call us at 262.763.3021. If you'd like to know more about how Jesus can change your life, I'd love to mail you a copy of how Jesus changed my life in "My Story." E-mail me at Carson@gracechurchwi.org to request a free copy. Please include your mailing address.