Being able to spend time with all our family some part of the last two months blessed me tremendously. With children and grown grandchildren spread around Texas, Georgia and California, getting to see them for several days only happens occasionally. At Thanksgiving or Christmas we all try to get together somewhere, but then only get about two days by the time we travel. Having a little more time means we are more relaxed and enjoy being together and talking about more than we do when crowded into the rush of Thanksgiving or Christmas Dinner and presents.
I well know not all family situations are such that people want extended time together; indeed, sometimes the less time together the better the feelings. But that is not God’s plan. Love is the reason we enjoy each other, and I feel deeply sorry for parents who tell me their children don’t speak to them or that they don’t know where their children are. My heart hurts for their situation and I pray that resolves in the near future, for all their sakes.
God instituted marriage with Adam and Eve and then the family. Many of us have strayed from God’s best for our lives and see the cost it brought. And we see the good results when we follow His guidance. Let’s read what God said about families:
For the next few passages, I’m using The Message Bible: Ephesians 5:22-24 talks about how wives relate to husbands. Wives, understand and support your husbands in ways that show your support for Christ. The husband provides leadership to his wife the way Christ does to his church, not by domineering but by cherishing. So just as the church submits to Christ as he exercises such leadership, wives should likewise submit to their husbands. Ladies, if our husbands love us like Christ loves the church, they won’t treat us without love and respect, so submitting won’t bring hardship.
Christ through Paul addresses men in verses 25, 28-29, 31, 33: Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church — a love marked by giving, not getting. That [how Christ treats the church] is how husbands ought to love their wives. They’re really doing themselves a favor — since they’re already “one” in marriage.
No one abuses his own body, does he? No, he feeds and pampers it. And this is why a man leaves father and mother and cherishes his wife. No longer two, they become “one flesh.”…The way Christ treats the church… provides a good picture of how each husband is to treat his wife, loving himself in loving her, and how each wife is to honor [respect – NIV] her husband.
In Ephesians 6:1-4 parent and child relationships come front and center: Children, do what your parents tell you. This is only right. “Honor your father and mother” is the first commandment that has a promise attached to it, namely, “so you will live well and have a long life.”
Fathers, don’t exasperate your children by coming down hard on them. Take them by the hand and lead them in the way of the Master.
We read now about the wife/husband duties in the family, this time from the New International Version. In Bible times women worked around the home (see more of Proverbs 31 for examples) but they also had many children, who helped with the farming, tending cattle or whatever the parents did.
Psalm 128:3-4, 6: Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your sons will be like olive shoots around your table. Thus is the man blessed who fears the Lord…May you live to see your children’s children.
Proverbs 31:27-28: She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:
Naturally the man provided for physical needs but a main fatherly duty gets defined in 1 Timothy 3:4: He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. Keep in mind Ephesians 6:4 with this verse.
Disagreements do come when people are close, so God gives guidance for those times also: Genesis 45:24 describes the time Jacob sent his sons to buy grain during a famine, before they knew the one they were dealing with was Joseph. Then he sent his brothers away, and as they were leaving he [Joseph] said to them, “Don’t quarrel on the way!”
After they discovered who he was, Jacob said this to his sons in chapter 50:17: ‘This is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly.’ Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father.” When their message came to him, Joseph wept.
The disciples had problems with forgiveness also, as we read in Matthew 18:21-22: Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.
All parents and children must forgive each other to enrich the family bond. We all make mistakes and some are serious, but real forgiveness carries no grudge or keeps reminding the one of the issue. We may not forget the problem but love covers it so that the pain dissolves.
As Psalm 133:1 tells us, How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity! That’s why I had such a good time visiting with our adult children and their grown and nearly so children. Love and unity abounded.
Maybe you want to ask what my husband and I did special in raising our children. Our background started us in the right direction as we both came from loving Christian homes. We did love each other and our children, but we made mistakes like other parents do. As I look back I see things I’d have changed if I’d known better, but I didn’t. I must admit, God had a hand in working through our mistakes so that the rough places over time became smooth. I urge each of you who might experience unwanted times in dealing with your children, keep on loving them and communicating as well as you can. Pray for yourself and them; ask God for wisdom. The result will bring you and your children great joy.