By Rev. Charles says
Preached at Life BPC 8am and 1045am services, 2013-06-16
Text: Epheser 6:1-4
When I was a kid it was a lot easier to build relationships because people always had time for each other. I used to play with all the kids in my neighborhood. My father and mother knew everyone who lived on the same street and we went around every night to visit our neighbors. We hardly ever watched TV back then because it was still black and white and the shows were pretty boring and only aired a few hours a day. My mother was a full-time housewife. My father went to work at 8am and was home at 5:30am. Rarely did he work overtime or be away from home. This allowed him to spend much of his time at home with his family and to take us to church on weekends, on family trips, or to visit friends and relatives.
But life has changed so much since then. There is now much less time for building relationships than there used to be. The demands of work and school have increased enormously. We hardly have time to get to know our neighbors and they are too busy for us. But even worse, many are too busy to spend time with their own family members. Family life suffers greatly from this today. Marriage and birth rates are falling while divorce rates are rising. In many households, both parents have to work to make ends meet. In some cases, this results in neglecting the needs of their children, who in turn grow up abandoning their aging parents.
A family survey was conducted in Singapore two years ago. It showed that the longer couples have been married, the less effort they make to maintain a healthy relationship and to manage their marital conflicts. For example, 67% of those who were married less than 5 years said they celebrate anniversaries with their spouse, compared to 57% of those who were married more than 20 years. 97% of respondents who were married less than 5 years said they would allow themselves kind gestures to make up with their spouse if they knew their spouse was unhappy with them, compared to 87% of respondents who have been married for 20 years or more. Fathers spend significantly less time with their children (24 hours per week) than mothers (34 hours per week). In many houses in Singapore, dad goes to work while mom and the kids are still asleep.
Mom goes to work soon after. The children remain in the care of the maid or daycare. By the time Papa comes home late at night, everyone has gone to bed. Because of conflicting schedules, they rarely share meals together. And even when everyone is at home, everyone is just sitting in front of one screen. There is little meaningful communication between them. Dear beloved, if your family life is like this, then it is time for a change. We can't allow that.
Since today is Father's Day, let all fathers commit to making family time a priority. If we hardly spend any time with our children, we will someday have to live with regrets. Before we know it, they've grown up and left the nest. So we need to pay more attention to them while we still can. We need to build good relationships within our families. That is not easy. It will take much personal sacrifice, humble apologies, forgiveness, a willingness to love and accommodate others, and rearranging our priorities. But this is very necessary because God requires it of us, as He said in verse 4 of our text: "Fathers, do not anger your children, but bring them up in the discipline and admonition of the Lord." How can we worship and serve the Lord in church if we are not doing His will properly in our own homes? Fathers, please try to keep your home life in order, and if it is not in order, by all means make it in order. God requires this of us!
This message is not just for fathers. It is also for all adults who have parents, as it says in verses 2-3 of our text: “Honour your father and your mother; (That is the first commandment with promise;) that you prosper and live long on earth.” For those of us who have elderly parents, this means we should not neglect them. God requires us to take care of them and repay them for all the love and care they gave us growing up. Sometimes we don't miss them until they're gone forever and we realize how much they mean to us. Then it would be too late to express how much we love them.
And that message goes for all of our youth members here who are still in the care of their parents. The first verse of our text is, "Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for that is right." Please learn to value the time you spend with your parents.
And please remember, you may have many friends like you who you would rather spend time with, but in this life you only have one father and one mother to call your own. So use the chance you have now to build a good relationship with them because the day will come when you will have to leave your home and go your own way. They can go abroad to study and settle down and you may not see them again.
But some of you may say, “Pastor, you don't know what kind of parents I have. They are so difficult to relate to. I've given up talking to them.” While this won't be the easiest thing to do, you simply cannot afford to neglect your family relationships because God's Word emphasizes family relationships.
I. The Biblical emphasis on family relationships
Family relationships are emphasized in various ways in the Bible. The first is through
A. The examples of godly people
An example is King David. According to 1 Samuel 22:1-3, when David fled as a fugitive from King Saul and he came to the cave of Adullam, his family came to stay with him. David's concern for the well-being of his parents prompted him to take them to his friend the king of Moab to be cared for. He said, "Let my father and mother, I pray you, come out and be with you until I know what God will do for me." There may have been two reasons for this: David was worried about this King Saul harming his parents while trying to kill him and perhaps he wanted his parents to live in reasonable comfort and his lair in the cave was not such a place for them.
The best example in the New Testament is the obedience our Lord Jesus gave to Mary and Joseph. According to Luke 2:51, He was subject to them. And even when he died on the cross, Jesus still cared enough about his mother's welfare to ask his disciple John to care for her. (John 19:26–27). Another way in which family relationships are emphasized in the Word of God is in the
B. The commandments concerning family life
There are many commandments in the scriptures that promote harmony and godliness in family life.
Husbands are commanded to love their wives, and wives are commanded to submit to their husbands (Ephesians 5:22–25). Both must be faithful to their marriage vows (Matthew 19:6). Parents are commanded to love, teach, and train their children (Titus 2:4; Deuteronomy 6:7; Proverbs 13:24). And children are commanded to honor and obey their parents (Exodus 20:12).
All of this should make us ask, "Why did God bother to give us so many commandments and such detailed instructions for family life?" Doesn't that show how much God cares about how we conduct our family lives? That being said, God has shown His interest in the way fathers conduct their family lives. It can be seen in the…
C. The requirement for spiritual guidance
When Paul wrote to Timothy about whom the church should appoint as elders, he made it clear that only those who lead their own families well should be considered. And the reason he gave is this: “If a man does not know how to govern his own house, how should he look after the church of God?” (1 Timothy 3:5). organization, but if you are not fulfilling your responsibilities as head of your own family, God is saying you are unqualified to lead His people. Your family life is most important to Him!
Consistent with this, it is interesting to note that one reason God chose Abraham of all people to enter into a covenant with Him was his zeal to get his family to walk in obedience to God. Genesis 18:19 tells us, "For I know him that he will command his children and his house after him, and they will keep the way of the LORD to do justice and justice..."
Alongside the biblical examples and commandments regarding family relationships and the requirement for spiritual leadership, we can see a strong emphasis on this in:
D. The promises concerning the family
Many of God's promises apply not only to individuals but also to their families.
For example, when Peter delivered his first gospel sermon at Pentecost, he proclaimed: “Repent, and be baptized, all of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is to you and your children and to all who are far off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” (Acts 2:38,39)
Later, when Paul and Silas took the gospel message to the jailer at Philippi, they said to him, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you and your house will be saved" (Acts 16:31). In the same chapter (verses 14,15) another family was saved - Lydia's. The Lord opened her heart as Paul preached the gospel, and then Lydia and all members of her family were baptized. Her home became the first meeting place for the church in Philippi.
However, this does not mean that all members of a Christian's family are automatically saved. Salvation and faith are personal and cannot be obtained by proxy. Each individual family member must receive the Lord individually or by himself. But God's promises to families have a foundation. They are based on the fact that the family to which a person belongs has an important influence on his life. A person's family plays an important role in determining their values, attitudes, and outlook on life.
As Proverbs 27:17 tells us, “Iron sharpens iron; so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.” God uses your loved ones to mold and sharpen your character, values, and personality. Your family is the mold into which all these things are cast. I ask you: Where did you get your very first knowledge and social skills? It's probably because of the family you grew up with. Where did you develop your very first understanding of this world? In the family you grew up with. Like it or not, much of who you are today was shaped by God through the family that raised you. This even applies to your outward appearance. You know the saying “Like father, like son” or “Like mother, like daughter”. You can't help but bear some resemblance to your birth parents. And perhaps some of you came to know and love the Lord Jesus through a family member who introduced you to Christ, just as Andrew introduced his own brother Simon Peter to the Lord.
After seeing what the Bible says about family relationships, I have faith that we will all strive to devote more time and attention to building them. This brings us to the next part of our message where we learn the following:
III. The Path to Building Biblical Family Relationships
1. Cultivate strong bonds with your family. There are some who believe that what binds family members together is love. That's true, but only as long as our idea of love isn't limited to the pleasant feelings or warm emotions that many people mistake for love. True, biblical love means being firmly committed to each other, no matter how you feel about each other. Feelings change all the time. Parents are sometimes saddened by their child's bad habits. Siblings often resent the space and display "sibling rivalry". When family relationships depend only on feelings, home will soon become a hostile war zone!
But when you stand up for each other, family relationships remain strong and stable, despite all the emotional swings. Commitment keeps a son from betraying his father to his father's enemies. Instead, he tries to defend his father's honor. For this reason, Psalm 127:5 tells us about the blessings of having children: “Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be ashamed, but will speak to the enemies at the gate."
Commitment keeps a mother from giving up on her child, no matter how difficult it may be. As Isaiah 49:15 says, “Can a woman forget her suckling child that she should not have pity on the son of her womb?” Devotion keeps a father from denying his son, even when that son has deeply and greatly offended him has become rebellious. We remember the father of the prodigal son who looked day after day for the son's return until finally he saw him and rushed home to welcome him (Luke 15:20)! What distinguishes a Christian family from all others is the commitment of its members to dealing with relationship problems and sin through forgiveness and reconciliation. This commitment to forgive and reconcile with one another allows the family to overcome any relationship problem.
Commitment also makes one willing to help one's own brothers and sisters in their day of need. Proverbs 17:17 says, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” The bond that binds family members together is bond. A strong commitment to your family will make you willing to make personal sacrifices for them. A few years ago, a highly qualified church member quit his well-paying job at a multinational company for a job that pays him less but gives him more time to spend with his family. He has never regretted this decision.
For our younger members, spending time with their families may not be as important a priority as spending time with other young people. It's natural. But please also make time for your family. There are times when you need to say "no" to your friends and tell them that this time your family needs to come first. This is especially the case if your father or mother has something planned for the whole family and you imagine that you will be very bored if you go with them and that you will have more fun if you go with your friends go, or stay at home and play computer games.
Listen to this: Whatever time you spend with your family, doing things together, going places together, or just being together, is not wasted. These moments help build memories that will last a lifetime. These beautiful memories play an important role in strengthening family relationships, just as remembering God's past work in our lives strengthens our relationship with Him (Psalm 77:11). What memories of your loved ones have you built so far? Do you occasionally take a trip back in time to remember all the warm and tender moments you shared with them?
If you ever find that your family relationships are starting to grow stale, like the old adage "familiarity breeds contempt," then one way to bring freshness back to your relationship is to relive the good memories of your past experiences together. And then build more good memories by spending meaningful time with them. And if you want to make your time with them meaningful, there must be meaningful communication with them. This brings us to the next point on building biblical family relationships:
2. Communicate with them in a meaningful way. How do we communicate meaningfully? There are three levels of communication: The first level is the most superficial, as only common clichés like "Good morning!" are exchanged. How are you? Fine? Have you eaten yet? Did you do your homework? When the conversation moves beyond this level, it evolves into an exchange of facts. This is where people feel comfortable sharing things they know without giving their opinions about feelings (something like "coffee shop talk"). They can talk about the weather, the news, and also about specific people they both know. But this is not yet the deepest level of communication.
At the deepest level, people begin to open up to share what they think about the things discussed. They start expressing their opinions, likes, things they are happy about or things they are disappointed about. Some would call this a "heart-to-heart conversation." It is this level of communication that builds the relationship. Here they feel comfortable with each other, and those who communicate have become more confident that they can trust each other without fear of being judged or slandered.
Let's learn to communicate meaningfully with our family members, leave behind all the usual clichés and fact-sharing, and move on to the level where real influence is conveyed and personal impact is made. Another thing to include in your communications with your family members is to honestly express what you really appreciate about them and them (compare Philippians 4:8). We often forget this because we take our family members for granted.
We parents often forget that our children regularly need personal confirmation and appreciation from us. In verse 4 of our text we are told, "Fathers, do not anger your children..." The same command is given in Colossians 3:21, but with the added reason: "...lest they be discouraged. "Constructive criticism is necessary to help your child improve, but hearing constant nagging and criticism from you day in and day out will make them discouraged and angry. He might even give it up entirely, thinking that whatever he does, you will never like it. You can tell him that you are doing this for his own good and that you have his best interests at heart, but how is he supposed to believe you if you don't take note of his efforts to improve and have no word of appreciation or appreciation ? encouragement for him?
So if you want to develop a good relationship with your child, communicate with them in a meaningful way and show them appreciation as you do so. A sincere word of appreciation from your heart can go a long way in building your child up and bringing them closer to you. And if you want the best for your kids, you should too...
3. Pray for them and with them. This is the third to last point in building biblical family relationships. All our wishes for the welfare of our family should be turned into prayer. And as you pray, thank God for each of them and ask Him to strengthen your relationship with them.
For those who are parents, please do not just pray that your child will do well on their exams and get into the right school and college. The most important thing to pray for is for your child's salvation and his walk with God. And combine that prayer for him with your own efforts—efforts to build him up spiritually to fear the Lord and live for him.
The strongest family relationships are those that draw God into them. For example, in Acts 21:9 we are told that Philip the Evangelist had four daughters who prophesied and lived with him. They shared the same passion for God's word and ministry as their father. And that family offered warm Christian hospitality to weary missionaries like Paul when he returned to Jerusalem. This shows us that the closer family members get to the Lord, the closer they will be to each other. When they love the Lord deeply, they can have a deeper and more meaningful relationship with one another. There is a saying, "A family that prays together stays together."
In some families, however, not all family members share the same commitment to Christ. Sometimes the children are deeply committed to Christ, but the parents are not. Sometimes it is the parents who are deeply committed to Christ, but the children are not. Some of us have loved ones who are not Christians or are professed Christians. Our relationship with them is strained by the occasional disagreements that arise as a result. Jesus spoke about this in Matthew 10:35-37 – “For I came for a man to quarrel with his father, and a daughter with her mother, and a daughter-in-law with her mother-in-law. And a man's enemies will be those of his own house. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.”
Unless your loved ones are as committed to Christ as you are, there will inevitably be problems coming between you and them. But if you make a serious effort to get them to have the same commitment to Christ, you can look forward to the day when these differences will no longer weigh on your relationship. Instead, you will be able to speak freely with them about the common faith you share in the Lord Jesus. You will have a closer and more meaningful time with them.
For this reason, please strive to get every member of your family to commit themselves to the Lord Jesus Christ. That means praying for them and reaching them with the Word of God. Invite them to the upcoming Gospel Sunday, which is only two weeks away. Who knows the Lord will use this to call them into His wondrous light? Let's make our homes as cheap as possible so that Christ can fully exercise His dominion. He who is the head of the Church must also be the head of our family.
We have seen how important family is to him and therefore how important our family should be to us. We have seen how we can build biblical family relationships with our family members through strong commitment to them, meaningful communication with them, and prayer for and with them. May the Lord help us now to use these things well.