Family


 

When I was just a boy watching a black & white television set, there were two programs about families that I liked to watch.  One was “Leave It To Beaver” featuring the Clever family;  Ward and June and their two sons, Wally and Theodore (Beaver).   I’m not sure  what kind of work Ward did, but he wore a suit to work everyday and they lived in a two-story house.   June wore “A” line chic dresses with a upturned collar and a nice pearl necklace.  The “boys” always seemed to have clean clothes and a nice bedroom they shared with it’s own bathroom.   Beaver would do something that led to a life lesson about knowing to do right and developing character and morals.

The second program was “Father Knows Best” featuring the Anderson family.  Jim and Margaret Anderson had three children, Betty (Princess), Bud, and Kathy (Kitten).  Jim was in the insurance business and  Margaret was a housewife who seemed to always have things going in the right directions.  Again this show presented life’s challenges that lead to a moral and seemed to always be worked out in thirty minutes.

In the late 1950’s, these shows and others presented a family life that missed some of the things I saw in family life.  These programs were fiction.  Reality was something  completely different.

From my perspective, my boyhood, living in the San Joaquin Valley of California, was simple.  During the day, I went to Vineyard Elementary school.  I rode my bicycle around the neighborhood, and I played outside .  At “dark”, I was safely inside my home.  I had no worries.  But that was not true of my parents.  They had the responsibility of taking care of three kids.  They worked to buy food and clothes and to provide a place to live.  They had their personal struggles.  Struggles that was not resolved in a thirty minute time frame.  Those struggles remained for years and years.

As I was researching this subject, I realized the number of families like the Clever’s and the Anderson’s would have to be very, very small, if non-existent.  Isn’t more fisable that most families are dysfunctional in some form?   We are all very different in our make-up of what is “normal”.  From the children’s perspective:the wealthy, the poor, the middle class, those with two parents, those with a single parent, those with good health and those with poor health, those with “Godly” parents and those with parents who don’t believe in God, all adjust and live their own “normal”.

family   noun  fam-i-ly

1athe basic unit in society traditionally consisting of two parents rearing their children
also any of various social units differing from but regarded as equivalent to the traditional family // a single-parent family
bspouse and children //want to spend more time with my family
2a group of individuals living under one roof and usually under one head HOUSEHOLD
3aa group of persons of common ancestry CLAN
ba people or group of peoples regarded as deriving from a common stock RACE
merriam-webster.com

So, as I thought about families, I asked myself why do we have families?  What is the purpose and how do families effect our society?  As with most questions I have, I turned to my Bible for answers and the wisdom it brings.  You would not be surprised to learn the Bible speaks much about  families.   In both the Old Testament and  the New Testament are verses and passages that give us instructions and principles, which

Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.   Proverbs 22:6 NKJV

will help us to live as a family the way God intended for us to live.

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.”

And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.  Ephesians 6:1-4 NKJV

I would encourage you to do a search for verses about marriage and parenting.  In the Book of Ephesians, the relationship between a wife and a husband and the Lord is discussed in Chapter 5: 22-33.  There are many places in the Bible to learn how to live,  not in the “make believe” world of television, but in the real world of successes and failures.

I believe there are, at least, five purposes for families that, if instituted would  change our families, our churches, and our society.  Here they are:

To Develop

We are all uniquely formed in the womb with our own likes, dislikes, personality characteristics, challenges, etc.   I believe a parent has a responsibility to first establish a strong, loving  foundation with their spouse before children are born.  A loving husband who loves and supports his wife by being faithful to serving the Lord, and thereby, being faithful to his wife has a “leg up” to being a great father.  And a respectful, supportive wife will have a “leg up” to being a great mother.

Which areas in a family and in children need to be developed?  It’s been said that everyone need a sense of importance/purpose and a sense of security, so let’s start there.    If your spouse feels they are valued in your eyes and that you are taking care of their basic needs to survive, then that relationship will take root and grow.  When children come, they too, need to have a purpose and to be secure.

Physical development, educational development, social interaction are important, as well as building character, moral convictions,  integrity, and spiritual growth

will form who your child will become.  When I think of the blank slate that parents start with in teaching and caring for their baby and as they pour their live’s into the life of their child,  it is an  amazing and fearful, and rewarding challenge.   I have not meet a parent of adult children who think they were able to do everything correctly.   In the chain of life,  we are reliant on the experience of how our parents taught us and they were reliant on how well their parents taught them and your children will rely on how well you do.  It is no wonder, wise parents cry out to the Lord for guidance.

I think it shouldn’t be necessary to say, but here it is, development takes your involvement.  To build a relationship takes focus and determination and adjustments along the way.  What worked for your first child may not work for your second child.  We need to learn how God put them together and build on that.

To Support

The family unit is the core for receiving and giving support to one another.  When one member of the family is struggling emotionally or physically or even financially, the family unit should be the first responders in helping another family member.

From 1 Timothy 5:  8. But if anyone does not provide for his own, especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.         16 If any believing man or woman has widows, let them relieve them, and do not let the church be burdened, that it may relieve those who are really widows.  NKJV

The biblical plan is for each family to take care of their own, but it also instructs us to care for others who need help, as well.

16 By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 17 But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?  18 My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.  1 John 3:16-18 NKJV

What do our children learn from us by being generous and caring for those who do struggle?  As I said previously, we are reliant on what our parents and their parents experience has been.  Do we want them to be generous and caring in the family?  We must show it to them.   In verse 16, the word, “brethren” is used.  In verse 17, the word “brother” is used.   Both words are “family” words.  Brethren and Brother could refer to those in your family unit  or in the Christian family unit.  We are not just to speak about helping, but we are to do things to help our family.

When I had a major surgery in December of 2011, my sister and sister-in-law both came to help my wife while I was in the hospital.  My wife was handicapped and needed help loading and unloading her electric scooter.  They were there to help her with that and to help her with the emotional stress she was going through.  When I had a pacemaker installed in April of 2019, my brother was there to help me with my recovery.  My family was and is a support to me.

I understand there are situations where a family member tries to take advantage of their family.  I would say you are to help them to the point of when helping them  starts to hurt other members of the family.    At some point, adult family members must be responsible for their own actions.

To Discipline

Does disciple only mean to punish your child with a belt, switch, paddle, hair brush, etc. when they behave improperly?

dis-ci-pline

  1. (noun) the practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behavior, using punishment to correct disobedience.
  2. (verb) train (someone) to obey rules or a code of behaviour, using punishment to correct disobedience.

Does every infraction result in using “maximum force” to correct the problem?  My pastor would say he and his wife didn’t want to fire a Howitzer cannon to kill a fly.  Many will quote Proverbs 13:24, “Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent [constant in effort] to discipline him.”  Does spanking work for every child?  Does timeout work for every child?  Does yelling at them work for every child?   Does grounding them work for every child?  The obvious answer is no.

A paraphrase of Proverbs 13:24  might go like this, “if you love your child, be faithful to train them to obey /abher to your expectations of them.  There will have consequences for their actions otherwise.”   Taking your teenager son’s car keys for a week may get his attention better than swats to his bottom.

There were three principles my wife used as a school teacher in disciplining her students: 1) Never act when you are mad, 2) The child had to acknowledge their bad behavior before the discipline, and  3) love on them afterwards.

The goal is not to just hurt them, but to train them to do what is right.  You wouldn’t let your little one run out into the middle of the highway or to touch a hot stove because they would get hurt.   It’s been said, “You don’t want to just get them through the second grade, you want them to be strong, Godly adults with good morals and good character.”  We have to have a long range goal in mind.  We are to love them diligently to discipline them, even when they don’t like it.

To Love

The family unit should be the flower bed of showing how to love one another.

“25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…..26 In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies.  He who loves his wife loves himself…..33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.  Ephesians 5 NKJV

Husbands and fathers have a  tremendous responsibility to set the example in showing love (“just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her”) in the family.  A selfish, tyrannical, bully does not inspire love.  Your sons and daughters are watching and learning about what love is from you.  Don’t act one way in public (church) and another way at home.  Love their mother and love your children.

My mother was a good example of 1 Peter 4:8 love. “And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.”  As I watched family members fail her, at times, she seemed to have a reserve of love somewhere within her because they were hers.  She just kept on loving them .  She would pray for them  and she did your best to take care of them.

To Encourage

There are times we may want to give up.  There are times we want to quit.  There are times we think we just can’t do something.  Those are the times your family will stand beside you.  Those are the times they will encourage you and to give you wise council.

Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him, and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.  Ecclesiastes 4:12 NKJV

After my wife died,  I would go to my brother’s house and sit on the back porch and look out into the woods behind his house.  Many times, he would just listen to me as I would tell of my hurt.  In the same way,  my sister and I would spend time on the phone (she lives on the East coast) doing the same things.  They know me and know who I am.   Because I know they love me, I listened to their encouragement to me.  I trust them, because they are family.

It occurred to me, these five things should also be in our church family.  Often I see these things learned at home, manifest itself in church.  A church family is made up of a variety of people with different backgrounds and experiences with a common denominator, which is to love and serve and glorify Jesus.

While my family wasn’t perfect, we have shared much love and many hardships that was our life.  We are flesh and blood with the same DNA.  I am blessed to have adult siblings who love me and who  I love.  I have fond memories of who my family is and what we have done together.  That is more than some can say.

 

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