Joshua 24:14 Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD.15 And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.
This is probably the best known verse in the book of Joshua and it reveals something that faces every family.
What is the glue that holds your family together?
What is the focus, the goal of your family?
In many families the focus is all inward. Two people get married, have kids and try to succeed financially. The biggest goals may be to buy a comfortable house and keep the kids out of jail. The glue holding these families together is always summarized by one word- LOVE.
They get married because they love each other. They stay married because they love each other. When I do pre-marriage counseling, I ask each couple to list the reasons they want to marry each other. It’s a waste of time. Every single person has given three reasons:
1: I love her.
2: She loves me.
3: We love each other.
When the thrill wears off, disillusionment can set in. Maybe they feel they no longer love each other and only stay together because of the kids.
Love is a beautiful thing to have in a family – I want every family to have it. But love makes a lousy focus. It’s based too much on emotions, which can change from day to day.
The alternative to an inward, suffocating focus, is for a family to have a goal that is beyond itself. The best goal a family can have is the one Joshua challenged his people with – to fear God and serve him in sincerity and truth.
The benefits of putting God first in your family are many. by looking to the Bible we find guidelines on how to live. These guidelines aren’t the advice of some columnist but are the eternal commands from God.
In addition, Christians can receive guidance from God. If you are concerned about finances, your children, or the direction of your career, you can pray to God about all these things. God can give you answers to your questions about what you should do. He can also change the situation you are concerned about.
This perspective is important when tragedy hits a family. We always imagine ourselves as being strong and steadfast but a crisis has a way of breaking down the toughest people. There is a common belief that in times of crisis most families will band together and help each other out. Unfortunately, the opposite more often happens – the family members become isolated and hostile.
Every family needs a focus outside themselves which doesn’t shift with events. As the old hymn puts it, we need a rock which is higher than we are.
Christ can be present in a family at a variety of levels. The first level is when a single member is a Christian. This can be pretty discouraging, especially if you are a wife or child. But even as the only Christian in your family, you can have an impact. Turn to 1 Corinthians 7:14. It says:
For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.
The word “sanctified” does not mean the non-Christians in the family are saved. It means God is working through the witness of their loved one.
Christians can make a positive impact on their family primarily by their loving and patient example. 1 Peter 3 says your lifestyle will be more effective than any sermon.
1 Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; 2 While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. 3 Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; 4 But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.
Maybe someone in your family is not saved. How much does that concern you? Are you trying to set a Christian example for them so they will be impressed by the gospel? Are you praying for their salvation and actually expecting God to do something? As the years go by it is easy to become complacent and think your family will never change. You shouldn’t give up. More people are saved through families than any other source. The Bible itself gives evidence of this. In John 1:40-42 it says:
40 One of the two which heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother.
41 He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ. 42 And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone.
Andrew found his brother and he brought him to Jesus. The spirit of God often moves within families. Our families are one of the best mission fields we have.
I believe that no Christian is going to be effective unless they are trying to get closer to God everyday. The best way to do this is to spend a certain amount of time in prayer and Bible reading. When you pray, pray for each member of your family by name. by reading the Bible we come to find out what God’s will is. Whenever you read it, you should be asking God how each passage can apply to your life.
One thing is essential – Live your faith in your family.