When God decided to bless the whole world with a Savior, He began
by calling out one family—Abram and Sarai. Who would have
thought that a childless aged couple could have such eternal
impact? Yet, through them came a great nation. More importantly,
through them came the great Savior. We all look at our families at
times and think there is no way God could use us to accomplish
anything. God wants us to know He can. However, in all honesty,
most families will never accomplish anything important. Why?
Because most families do not have what we need to stand out and be
different from the teeming masses of dysfunction. Sadly,
“Christian” families are rarely different from worldly
families. Yet, just as Christians should be different (Romans
12:2), so should Christian families be different. What do
our families need right now to be different, to function and to
Our families need God to build our homes.
is perhaps the most important passage for our families. Consider
the following paraphrase “Unless the Lord builds our home, we
labor in vain trying to build it…It is vain for us to rise up
early, to retire late, to eat the bread of painful labors; for He
gives to His beloved even in his sleep.”
Do you know any families similar to this one? Dad works
overtime constantly or perhaps he works two jobs trying to make
ends meet, prepare for the kids’ college and be set for
retirement. Mom not only works the home job, but she is also out
in the professional work world trying to help Dad pay for the
computer, the car, the house and the last vacation. Both are
interested in the kids’ well being so they not only work but Mom
is PTA president and Dad is baseball coach. Both try extremely
hard to make it to the kiddos’ special events. This is tough
because, Jr. and Sis are not only in school, but also soccer,
basketball, baseball, volleyball, ballet, boy scouts, girl scouts
and the school play. Jr. is a drummer in the band and Sis plays
the flute, but they are three years a part and their concerts are
never at the same time. On top of that, Dad and Mom are
Christians. They want Jr. and Sis to become Christians too.
Therefore, they try really hard to make it to “church”
Do you know families like this? Is yours a family like
this? What are they doing? They are staying up late, they are
rising early, they are eating the bread of painful labors. I
appreciate that they are attending “church.” However, my
question is how many of these families are making any of it
worthwhile by inviting the Lord to build their home for them and
then letting Him build it? How do we invite God to build our
homes? Through prayer. Consider Ephesians
3:20. God can do more than we ask or think by the power
working in us. But we have to think and ask. How do we let God
build our homes? Through learning and applying His word in our
individual and family lives. As Psalm
119:105 says, His word will guide us, but we have to let
I cannot stress this enough. No matter what our families
have got going on, if God is not building our family, it is a
dysfunctional failure. If our families are not praying,
individually and together, then nothing we do amounts to anything.
If our families are not studying God’s word and living God’s
word, then nothing we do amounts to anything. What do our families
need right now more than anything else? We need God to build our
Our families need husbands who will lead.
Our families need real leaders. Ephesians
5:25-30 provides the great teaching for husbands.
Regrettably, too many of us think this passage means our families
are God’s gift to us to do our bidding and fulfill our every
whim. That is not what this passage teaches.
As leaders, we are not allowed to do anything we want.
Rather, we are to lead our families as Jesus leads His church. I
want you to notice four aspects of this leadership.
leadership is to be governed by love. This love is defined in I
Corinthians 13:4-7. Paul, however provided the example of
love in Ephesians
5:25. “Love your wives, just as Christ also loved the
church and gave Himself up for her.” How can we say we would
give up our lives for our wives, if we will not give up our
favorite tv show for her? How can we say we would take a bullet
for her if we will not take the trash out for her? How can we say
that we would die for her if we will not live for her? I am glad
Jesus loved us the way He did. How many of us husbands love our
families that way?
means going somewhere. Where did Jesus lead the church? To
5:26). His leadership was about salvation. Regrettably,
most of us are focused on leading our careers or leading our
personal agenda. How many of us are focused on leading our wife
and children to heaven? There will be a day when that is all that
matters to us. Don’t wait for that day to think about how you
are going to get your family to heaven.
means taking responsibility. In Ephesians
5:27, Paul said that Jesus sacrificed Himself in order to
make the church holy and blameless. We Christians have a major
problem. Sin. But Jesus did not sit around bad mouthing us,
complaining to the angels about how awful we are and how He just
couldn’t do anything with us. He figured out a plan that would
help us overcome our problems. He took responsibility and did not
pass the buck. Husbands, leading our homes means taking
responsibility for our families. We have got to figure out what we
must do to help our wives and children grow. We must not spend all
our time rolling our eyes, throwing our hands into the air,
claiming we are victims of some cosmic tragedy. Men, if we did not
want this responsibility, we should not have signed up for the
gig. But now that we have signed up, we have to grow up to the
responsibility. Because we are not allowed out.
means meeting needs. Ephesians
5:28-29 demonstrates that leading means nourishing, that
is, providing what will help our families grow, and cherishing,
that is, caring for emotional needs. Our job is to serve our
families providing for them physically and emotionally. Remember
Jesus’ teaching on leadership in Luke
22:26. Being the leader at home means being the servant.
Our families need real leadership based on God’s word.
Men, we are the ones God has picked to provide it. Let’s step up
to the plate and do our job.
Our families need wives who will support.
Our families need to be a team. Far too often, everyone in
the family is vying for the leader position. There are too many
chiefs, not enough indians. We all know what happens in that
situation. There begin to be clan wars right inside the same home.
2:18 provides the great teaching for wives. God said,
“It is not good for man to be alone; I will make him a helper
suitable for him.” Proverbs
31:10-12 says it this way, “An excellent wife, who can
find? For her worth is far above jewels. The heart of her husband
trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good
and not evil all the days of her life.”
Regrettably, in our modern society, wives do not help
husbands. Wives compete with husbands. Do you remember the song,
“Anything you can do, I can do better. I can do anything better
than you.”? That is the theme song for modern husband and wife
relationships. But that is not God’s song for wives. God wants
you to be a helper who respects your husband (Ephesians
Your family needs a partner intent on building up the home
in the Lord (Proverbs
Timothy 5:14 demonstrates that your family needs you to
manage the home. Interestingly, the term translated there is “oikodespoteo,”
which literally means “ruler of the house.” The term was used
to describe stewards and managers of households. Then Titus
2:5 explains that you need to be a guardian of your home,
keeping your house pure of influences that would keep it from
reaching the goal of going to heaven.
Regrettably, some of you are partners with a husband who is
not leading the family to heaven. I
Peter 3:1-4 speaks to you. Your duty is not to try to take
over. Rather, your duty then is still to help your husband and
your family get to heaven by living the godly life of humility and
chastity. Our families need this kind of teamwork and support
Our families need children who are being trained in the
discipline and instruction of the Lord.
You may have expected me to point out that what the family
needs are children who honor and obey their parents (Ephesians
6:1-3). That is absolutely the case. However, children do
not know to do that unless parents bring them up in the discipline
and instruction of the Lord. Thus, it is extremely hard to tell
children what they need to be in the family. Instead, I must tell
parents what they need to be in order to produce children who are
what they need to be.
tells Dad and Mom, since she is supposed to be helping Dad, “Do
not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the
discipline and instruction of the Lord.” The term translated
“bring them up” means to rear up to maturity. Our job is not
to let our children remain children, but to bring them up through
discipline and instruction to maturity. Our job is to challenge
them and make them grow. Our job is not to expect them to be
adults today. However, our job is to push them closer to
adulthood. Deep down inside, we know children are supposed to be
maturing and not just acting their age. Have you ever praised a
child saying, “You are so amazing, you act just like all the
kids your age.”? However, I would wager you have praised a child
saying, “You are so amazing, you act beyond your years.” That
is what our families need right now. Parents who train their
children to grow up.
I want to share something that scares me about parenting
among Christians today. Proverbs
22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go,
even when he is old he will not depart from it.” This proverb is
a maxim, a statement that is generally true but not absolutely so.
There will be exceptions. Some children will be brought up
properly and still go wrong. However, since it is a general truth,
shouldn’t we see it generally happening? If Christians are, in
general, raising children the way they should go, we should be
seeing most children raised by Christians growing up to be
faithful Christians. Right? Why then do we not see children
brought up in faithful churches generally staying in faithful
churches? Why are so many of our children leaving for the fun and
games of youth and college groups and even going into the
denominations if they stick with churches at all? Why is it that
my friend David Banning, an excellent teacher of teenagers and
author of teenage Bible class material, has noted that only half
of the kids he has seen brought up by Christians are even members
of a faithful congregation after they leave home? Brethren, we
need to be honest. According to God’s word, while some children
will not maintain faithfulness no matter what we do, if families
were generally raising up children in the way they should go, then
most of them should be sticking with it. If they are not sticking
with it, that says something about what our families need right
Our families need churches that will strengthen the family.
No doubt, our families need churches that will teach the
absolute truth on the family. Our families need churches that will
uphold the truth on the permanence of marriage (Matthew
19:6). Our families need churches that will teach the
truth about husbands, wives, parents, children and their roles in
the family (Ephesians
5:22-6:4). Our families need elders who will hold husbands
and wives accountable to God’s teaching on the family and not
just God’s teaching on attendance.
In addition to the strong teaching of family truth, our
families need churches that will empower us to be families. Too
often we are following in the paths of the denominations when it
comes to dealing with the family. We want men’s groups to help
men be better husbands and fathers. We want women’s groups to
help women be better wives and mothers. We want youth groups to
ground our children in the faith for us. No doubt, as a faithful
church, we are making sure these groups are spiritually based. Any
social activities are only secondary. I certainly believe these
kinds of groups are scriptural and have their positive uses.
However, the more I consider these approaches, the less I believe
they are actually going to help our families in the long run.
It seems that everything churches are doing today to
promote spiritual growth in the family divides families up instead
of bringing them together. About the only thing churches do in
which the whole family stays together is the congregational
assembly. However, even there some push to separate the family by
having all the kids of the congregation sit together some place
away from their parents. I am not saying any of this is sinful. I
know there are some positives to all of it. However, with families
splintering all over the place, shouldn’t churches be doing more
to get the family together?
What do our families need from the local congregation right
now? Our families do not need another teen weekend, they need a
family weekend. They do not need another men’s group, women’s
group or youth group, they need a family based study. Perhaps we
could try some of the following: a class during normal Bible class
time that has parents and children working and learning together
in the class, not just studying the same material separately; home
Bible studies in which the kids learn to sit still and listen to
their parents discuss the Bible with other adults instead of
letting them run off to the play room so they will get out of our
hair; men’s groups that are not just for fathers but for fathers
and sons of all ages; women’s groups that are not just for
mothers but for mothers and daughters of all ages; materials that
we put out for family devotional times. The list could go on,
perhaps you can think of more we can do to get Christian families
together. Why not do some of them?
Our families are already split up going a dozen different
directions. I think it might be a good idea if our churches
started working to bring them together more and not just continue
the great divide. Perhaps I am all wet. Maybe the denominational
model is the way to go. However, I just can’t shake this feeling
that our families need something different from our churches.
God can use our families to accomplish great things in His
kingdom. God can use your family to accomplish great things in His
kingdom. To do this, your family does not need to be like my
family. However, it does need to be built by God. It needs to have
a husband who will lead with love, a wife who will support and
build the family and children who are raised up to maturity.
Further, to support and empower all of this, it needs a church
that will help draw it together. God can work through us, but we
must work God’s way.
to God in the church by Christ Jesus
Church of Christ