Summary: Families are wonderful and necessary.
Families are wonderful. Families are challenging. I am reminded of this every time I see my favorite Cosby Show episode in which Cliff, the father played by Bill Cosby, and Theo, the son played by Malcolm Jamal-Warner, have a chat about Theo’s desire to live like a “regular” person rather than “special” person like his dad who is a doctor or his mom who is an attorney.
Cliff is concerned about Theo’s grades and his lack of motivation and progress. What does Theo want to be? He wants to be a “regular” person like a truck driver. But that’s not the issue for Cliff; it is Theo’s lack of commitment that is the problem.
So dad takes $1200 in play money, an agreed to amount for a truck driver’s monthly earnings, and begins to help Theo understand what it takes to live. First are the taxes, because as Cliff says, “the IRS comes for the regular people first.” Then the discussion begins over rent (“You’re not living here, I’ll live in New Jersey”), then transportation (“A car will cost you “X”, “I’ll drive a motorcycle,” “you’ll wear a helmet.”). Then it goes on to food, (“I’ll eat peanut butter and jelly”), and clothes (“I want to look good”). All during this conversation, the play money goes back and forth between hands until Theo is left with $100 and dad finally asks, “Are you going to have a girl friend?’ “Of course! “ is Theo’s reply. At which time, Cliff takes the last remaining $100 dollars from Theo’s hand. Not only are families wonderful and challenging, families are also necessary.
This was the first episode of a series that lasted 8 years. It said much to families of all colors and backgrounds about some important ways of dealing with issues such as conflict, growing up, and decision-making.
Today, we conclude our two part series on family life with a look at the second three of the six “A’s” To A Healthy Family.” Last week we examined the first three first three A’s. (Overhead 1) and these were some of the suggestions made last week. (Overhead 2)
I believe that the dialogue between Cliff and Theo illustrates these final three parts of a healthy family. (Overhead 3) But we also need to look at the scripture passages as well because as we do so, we understand God’s purposes in this very important matter.
In I John 4:7 we read “Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is born of God and knows God.” If we claim to love God then what John says to us, and more important what God is saying to us, is this: we must continue to love. Love is the greatest expression of our commitment to God and not just God, but others as well. This speaks to the issue of affection because love and affection is intertwined. We show love as we express affection in appropriate ways.
In his own way, Cliff expressed affection for his son as he expressed his concern for his situation. Josh McDowell says this about affection: “When we show affection to [family members] we give them a sense of lovability.” Lovability, what an interesting word! It means “sweetness, “charm,” “appeal,” and “attractiveness.” Josh goes on to say that through “kind words and appropriate touch” we communicate to our family they are worth loving. How and what kind of affection do show to and in your family? And what does your affection communicate to them?
Cliff also demonstrated availability in taking time to help Theo understand some important life issues. Instead of simply telling Theo to get better grades or else, he made himself available to Theo and spent time listening to Theo’s perspective. What happens when we are available to our family members? We give them a sense of importance. We make them feel valued and loved. We tell them by our actions they are important.
In Matthew 19 we read of Jesus scolding the disciples for not letting the children come to Him. But, in His scolding He affirms the place and importance of availability. In verse 14 we read, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these.” How available are you to your family?
Now not only did Cliff express affection and demonstrate availability, he also reminded Theo through the budget exercise, of his accountability to his studies, to his family, and to himself.
Accountability is a widely used term in our society today. It is spoken of in public policy, education, law enforcement, and the church. What is accountability anyway? According the Merriam-Webster dictionary, to be accountable is to be answerable and responsible. “Answerable and responsible for what?” you ask. “For everything about you – behaviors, attitudes, and choices.”