“Except the Lord build the house (home) they labor in vain that build it.” ~ Psalm 127:1
In his devotion, “Personal Intimacy,” Charles Stanley states, “The goal of a married couple is not just to stay married but to develop a personal intimacy that touches body, soul, and spirit . . .”
For several years now social scientists have warned us that family is disintegrating and will not survive. Is there danger that the American family will cease to exist? I do not think so. I have read that a larger percentage of Americans marry today, have children, and commit themselves to living in a family household than ever before.
However, we must acknowledge that in recent years there has been a number of “negatives” that have brought great pressures on the family which have incapacitated the family, destroyed its integrity, and caused crippling emotional conflicts.
I want to point out some of these “negatives,” then turn attention to what and who will enable family success.
There is a great variety of problems which plague the home. They are problems which grow out of the inevitable crises of life. However, families suffer most because of character failure.
Someone has made this list which has proven to be some of the greatest problems affecting the family: Dishonesty, unfaithfulness, cheating, lying, gambling, drinking, and drugs, which stem from character failure. In this age of “new morality,” there is much pressure brought upon families to consider moral standards as obsolete.
There is also a breakdown in communication within the family. We have been experiencing for many years a generation brought up completely on television. It has been pointed out that the average viewing time of the American child from 6-16 years of age is between 20-24 hours per week. The problem today is how much TV they watch, and what they are exposed to. Devices have been invented to block certain programs from the kids, however, the problem is no longer TV that destroys family communication but the hand held devices to which children and parents have become addicted. These devices bring instant contact to anything a child or “undisciplined” parent want to view. The family is affected by the lack of “impulse control” in our society. The deep moral confusion families are now experiencing seems to have lifted all restraints. Uncontrolled behavior and aggression in the home is increasing steadily. What has always been intended for good: television, computers, telephones, etc., has also been used to bring harm. They have brought harm to the moral fiber of the family. As a society, we appear to be more confused morally than at any time in history. There has been great emphasis in recent years on “self-fulfillment.” Perhaps we need to hear a little more about self-denial. Could it be that denial is a key to fulfillment? We need to hear more about the infinite worth of a human being, that one child or one spouse transcends the significance of all our secular self interest.
In an atmosphere created in the home by love, each member of the family can find the stimulation and creative encouragement which makes for true fulfillment.
When Jesus spoke of love as being the badge of Christian discipleship, (John 13:35), He was referring to Christian love rather than romantic love. He was referring to the Calvary (sacrificial) kind of love rather than erotic love. The one essential ingredient for happiness in the home is love. It should be recognized that a home which is built on this kind of love has its foundation resting upon a solid rock. The principle of love is said to be the “royal law” by which we are to regulate our lives.
While romantic love is said to be impossible to define, the apostle Paul has done an excellent job of setting forth some of the qualities of Christian, sacrificial love, both in its negative and its positive expression. (I Corinthians 13:4-8)
“Love is patient:” Your anger is one of the greatest threats to your spouse’s and children’s safety. “Each of us has a private arsenal of weapons we can use when we’re angry. If we think someone deserves to be punished, we’re able to unlock the gate and select an appropriate weapon. Sometimes the weapons are verbal (ridicule and sarcasm), sometimes they’re devious plots to cause suffering and sometimes they are physical. But, they have one thing in common: The ability to hurt people.” (Love Busters, by Willard F Harley, Jr.)
A spouse, children, and parents can be deeply hurt. The husband and wife must be patient with each other’s imperfections, and with their children’s. Someone has said, “Children never attain perfection and parents must be patient for what only time and growth can take care of.”
“Love is kind:” While patience endures difficulties, kindness reaches out to do good. Family must go out of their way to accommodate each other with continuous acts of kindness. Cruelty and thoughtlessness are “not at home” where the attitude and practice of kindness are acquired. The home is the place where it is most important to practice kindness in our relationships to each other.
“Love does not envy:” Some translations of Scripture use the word jealous here instead of envy. The better word to use in this context is envy. The Bible says, “God is a jealous God.” This expressed His love for Israel when they entertained the worship of false gods. The word jealous reveals His love for them. You may have heard someone say about their spouse, “I am not jealous of him or her.” They should be because it expresses genuine love. Envy is a word used when talking about a person who only cares for self and what they want. True love does not envy. Both husband and wife should conduct themselves in truthfulness and integrity so they may never shake each other’s confidence. I read where Cliff Barrows often gives a message to Christian couples which he calls, “Ten Words that Will Safe Guard a Marriage.” They are: I was wrong, I’m sorry, forgive me, I love you.
“The perfect marriage is uniting of three persons—a man, a woman, and God! That is what makes a marriage holy. Faith in Christ is the most important of all principles in the building of a happy marriage and a happy home.”
~ Dr Billy Graham
“Love never fails:” True genuine godly love is characterized by determination. It is not shallow and superficial. It does not operate by moods or impulses. It is permanent and imperishable. It refuses to fail.
“Which is the great commandment? . . . You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” (John 22:36-37) I believe that if a person will let Christ Jesus be the first love of their life, they will not have an any trouble loving their spouse, children, and children their parents with immeasurable love.