“Making Love Last in the Home”
I John 3:18-24
During the month of May we are focusing on the home and family. From Biblical and secular history the slogan that says “As the Family goes so goes the Nation” is more than a slogan it is a fundamental truth. Nations rise or fall according to the moral fiber of the home and family.
The evidence is clear that there is a breakdown of families in America. American families are in trouble.
• One million children a year see their parents divorce. (Heritage Foundation)
• America’s divorce rate is now more than double what it was in 1960.
• 35% of our nation’s children live apart from their biological fathers. (US Census)
• In the last 40 years, pregnancies out-of-wedlock have increased 600%. (US Dept. of Health and Human Services)
• Less than 40% of married people claim to be very happy. (National Opinion Research Center, University of Chicago)
Many of us here this morning have personally experienced some of the statistics I just shared. So what is the answer to the national trend? The answer is for a spiritual revival to spread across our land. Each one us here today can make a difference. We can make the same commitment Joshua made when people all around him were turning to pagan idols and false teachings. He said, “As for me and my house we will serve the Lord.”(Joshua 24:15c)
My prayer is that our church will make an impact on every home and family connected in any way to the Willow Vale Community Church. May every family honor Christ and make Christ’s love last in the home and family.
We are all part of a family whether married with children or single. We all have parents and brothers or sisters. We all have some family connection. We all can have a positive and Godly influence on our family. Remember, families are today because of choices made in the past by family members. Each one of us is responsible for all the choices we make.
I John 3:18-24 gives clear teachings and guidelines on how to make love last in the home and family.
I John 3:18-19, Love is demonstrated by our actions.
I John 3:21, Love in action produces a clear conscience.
I John 3:24 Love is continued through obedience.
I. Love is Demonstrated by our Actions.
“Dear Children, let us stop just saying we love each other, let us really show it by our actions. It is by our actions that we know we are living in the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before the Lord.” I John 3:18-19
Some of us have had to learn to express love verbally in our homes. I personally have learned to tell my wife, my children and my grandchildren that I love them. Its one thing to verbalize love and it’s another to actually put actions to your words.
In our family and extended family it is sometimes a challenge to love mean spirited dysfunctional and irregular family members. In the movie we saw a week ago Saturday night, “Facing the Giants” the coach of the high school football team observed one of his players being rude to his father. Several days later he told the student that he needed to honor his father and become more obedient. The boy argued that his father was mean spirited and the leader of those wanted to get rid of the coach. The coach encouraged him to honor his father and also to honor God.
In answer to prayer the young man accepted Jesus and told the coach he needed to ask his father’s forgiveness. The coach took the student to see his father at work and the father listened to his son tell him that he was sorry for the way he had been acting and vowed to honor him and be more obedient. The father had a client in his office at the time and apologized for the interruption. The client said he would give anything for his son to say to him what the father’s son said to him.
Matthew 5:43-47 (Message) Jesus tells us how to put love in action in our home and family. “You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish – to everyone regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a metal? Any run-of-the mill sinner does that.”
Christ-like love is demonstrated in the home by both our words and our actions. Years ago I heard the story of a man in who said he loved children. He put a new sidewalk in front of his house and before it was dry he noticed neighborhood children putting their hand and footprints in the cement. He went out and started yelling and chasing them out of his yard. Another neighbor saw what he was doing and confronted him. “I thought you said you loved children. The man replied, “I love them in the abstract but not in the concrete.”
Do we react with anger and bitterness to a sibling or a parent that is hard to love? How do you respond to irregular and hurtful family members? How do you respond to people who are had to understand?
Only the grace of God can help us practice love and forgiveness to people who treat us unjustly. The alternative to forgiveness and bitterness is a shriveled soul. It is better to not hang around with abusive people and give them time and space unless you are a masochist.
In the marriage ceremony the bride and groom make the covenant and vows to “love, comfort, honor and keep one another in sickness and in health.” When honor is present in a marriage relationship, a couple can withstand the roughest storms. When honor is absent disaster is on the horizon in any relationship. To honor someone means to “confer distinction” upon that person. When a person receives an “honorary degree,” that person is given distinction for their service. You give honor to a loved one when you do not believe your opinions, concerns, and desires are superior to theirs.
For a marriage partner to have a superior attitude is on of the barriers to a successful relationship. Honor is lifting up and holding up your mate with respect.
One wife described how her husband honored her. “My husband treats me like a room full of priceless antiques. He walks in picks me up and holds me with great care and tenderness. I often feel like I am the most precious thing in our home. He saves the best hours and his best efforts for me, not the television.”
You show dishonor in your home when you ignore or degrade another person’s opinion, advice or beliefs.
You show dishonor when you bury yourself in front of a television or newspaper with someone in the family is trying to communicate with you.
You show dishonor when you publicly joke about another person’s weak areas or shortcomings.
You show dishonor when you treat in-laws or other relatives as unimportant.
You show dishonor when you are unwilling to admit you are wrong or ask for forgiveness.
I John 3:20 at first glance is hard to understand. “Even if our hearts condemn us…For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.” This verse is telling us that even when you feel unworthy of God’s love, He still loves you. Even when you feel guilty for past sin, God still loves you. Even when you feel condemned you have the assurance of God’s Word with God saying “I forgive you. I love you.” God gives you the assurance of His love and grace are at work in you.
Because of God’s amazing grace we are able to make love last in our home and family. With God grace at work in our lives we demonstrate love by our actions in our home and family.
II. Love in Action gives you a Clear Conscience and Boldness in Prayer.
I John 3:21 “Dear friends, if our conscience is clear, we can come to God with bold confidence. And we will receive whatever we requested because we obey him and do the things that please him.”
Love in actions gives you a clear conscience and boldness in prayer. It is when we act out of selfishness and not out of love that we get a guilty conscience. I for one regret it when I say or do something that is hurtful to members of my family.
As I have mentioned before the first years of our marriage had it rough times. I knew how to be tough but not tender. I remember on one occasion in our second year of marriage, I was a second year student as Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, KY. I complained to Carollyn about the way she fixed breakfast and after complaining and scolding I ran off to seminary and got all inspired. With a guilty conscience I found it hard to study and praying with a clear conscience was out of the question.
Only after I returned to our apartment and confess my sins and asked for forgiveness did I feel like studying and praying.
A great enemy of love in the home is anger. Uncontrolled anger can devastate healthy relationships. Anger is an emotion and the Bible does say, “get angry and sin not.” We are to get angry and passionate about injustices and people who are forgotten by society. Jesus displayed anger when he saw how money changers and merchants had desecrated the temple. With great emotion Jesus chased them out of the temple.
It is possible for a person to have his conscience seared – hardened and calloused. People who repeatedly turn from God face the consequences of developing hard hearts. The mind according to Romans 1:21 “become dark and confused.” Romans 1:28 “God abandons them to evil minds.” A person with a seared and calloused conscience has no problem killing defenseless people and then taking their own life.
Anger in the home is often caused by unfulfilled expectations. If you expect others to do certain things and if they don’t do them you feel your anger is justified. The problem is your expectations may be wrong and not healthy for the relationship. Living with angry people is like living in a minefield. When you least expect it you say something that triggers a tirade and tongue lashing from the person who has unfulfilled expectations.
Unresolved anger on any issue blocks a person’s ability to give and receive love. Deep seated hatred toward another family member can poison relationships between husband, wife and children. Anger has the power to keep a person miserable.
The Apostle Paul gives us these instructions in Ephesians “Don’t sin by letting anger gain control over you.” 4:26, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of malicious behavior. Instead be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” 4:31-32
Through the years we have tried to keep short accounts of conflicts with our children and grandchildren. Ephesians 4:26b “Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry.” The longer a conflict goes the more it smolders and will possibly erupt. The best policy is to deal with misunderstanding or hurts as soon as possible. Practice open and honest communication. The Bible instructs us to “speak the truth in love.” Ephesians 4:15
When there is tension in the air don’t wait for the person to come to you, go to the person and ask: “Did I do or say anything to offend you?” From your heart respond with “I’m sorry, I promise to make changes to do better.”
We have found that having daily prayer with our children before bed time to be very helpful. If there have been arguments over certain issues we make these critical issues points of prayer. If you have a clear conscience and a cleansed heart you desire to draw near to God with boldness in prayer. I John 3:21, “Dear friends, if our conscience is clear, we can come to God with bold confidence.”
Making love last in the home is possible as we demonstrate love by our actions and with a clear conscience go to God in prayer.
III. Love is Continued through Obedience and results in unity and fellowship.
I John 3:23-24 “And this is his commandment: We must believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as he commanded us. Those who obey God’s commandments live in fellowship with him, and he with them. And we know he lives in us because the Holy Spirit lives in us.”
Love in our home and family give testimony that God is love. I John 4:7-8, “Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is born of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God – for God is love.”
I can preach loud and long but unless my life demonstrates the love of Christ in my home and family all my words are in vain. Family unity happens when we are totally honest and open in our relationships. When we obey the Lord’s commands we have fellowship with the Lord and we also have fellowship with one another. Family disunity comes from phony living. We may testify how much we love the Lord but your children see our inconsistencies and how we actually act when under pressure. Full disclosure before God brings forgiveness and God’s blessing. We may as well be open and honest. God knows our heart and our thoughts and our desires. We can hide nothing from the Lord.
Secrets in families result in discord, division, and breakdown in relationships. True love in the family is shared on a feeling level. True love is heart to heart and not fact to fact. You communicate on a feeling level when you say, “what you did or said, made me feel hurt, bad, or loved.”
True Christ followers obey the teachings of Jesus. When Christian love is practiced in the home there is unity and fellowship and members of the family are built up in the Christian Faith.
When every member of the family is committed to honoring the Lord there is unity and harmony. When Jesus is honored and put first love lasts in the home and family.
Maxie Dunham, past president of Asbury Theological Seminary in his book on Living the Psalms, tells about the impact Jesus had on a home in London.
An atheist sought to make fun of an unlearned man who had been converted a few years before. He asked the man, “Do you know anything about Jesus Christ?” he asked. “Yes, by the grace of God, I do” the new Christian answered. The atheist asked, “When was Jesus born?” The new Christian didn’t know the answer. “How old was he when he died?” Again, the answer was incorrect. Other questions were asked with the same result until the atheist said with a sneer, “See—you don’t know as much about Jesus as you thought, do you?”
The new Christian said, “I know all too little, but I know this: Three years ago I as one of the worst drunkards in the East End of London. Three years ago my wife was a broken-hearted woman, and my children were as afraid of me as If had been a wild beast. Today I have one of the happiest homes in London, and when I come home at the close of the day my wife and children are glad to see me. Jesus Christ has done this for me. This I know.” Page 77
• Love is demonstrated by your actions
• Love in action gives you a clear conscience and boldness in prayer
• Love is continued through obedience and results in unity and fellowship