Summary: The message is a plea for Christians to ensure that their families are provided with a model for Christian living and that all within the family know the message of life in the Son of God.

“Fear the LORD and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt and serve the LORD. And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” [JOSHUA 24:14-15]. [1]

No home is ideal. It is de rigueur today to speak of less-than-ideal situations for families as “dysfunctional.” Those using the term imply that though some families do meet a standard defining normal family life, other families fail to measure up according to this idealized standard. Magazines and pop-up ads seemingly plague multiple web sites offer to determine whether your family is ideal, or whether yours is one of these dysfunctional families. Well, in what universe does the ideal family exist? Seriously, do you know a family that is perfect? And by the way, what qualifies as normal? What is the standard of family life to which we are to aspire? Nevertheless, each of us has a concept of what we want our family to be.

I’m not about to attempt to dictate how your family should look. I am qualified to say that if you are a follower of the Christ, you have some desires for how your family should live. At least, you should have some expectations for your family; and those expectations extend to your spouse, as well as your children, and even to your grandchildren. You want your family to live honourably, to be honest in deportment and just in every dealing. You want each member of your family to speak the truth in love, to treat others with consideration as they seek to maintain the dignity of everyone with whom they come into contact. You want your children to be chaste, your sons to be courageous and bold, and your daughters to be gracious and gentle.

Let’s admit a difficult truth—you can’t educate your family into righteousness. Even if your children and your grandchildren know what is right, and even if they superficially act in a manner that is consistent with what is right and honourable, you know that you cannot dictate to the heart of even your loved ones. You can appeal to their better angels, as the saying goes, but you cannot compel compliance with standards of goodness. Long years ago, the Psalmist wrote,

“Unless the LORD builds the house,

those who build it labor in vain.

Unless the LORD watches over the city,

the watchman stays awake in vain.

It is in vain that you rise up early

and go late to rest,

eating the bread of anxious toil;

for he gives to his beloved sleep.

[PSALM 127:1-2]

The Psalmist’s words are humbling—his words remind us that all the training we give our children is ultimately useless if they are not instructed by the Lord Himself.

A fellow pastor of my acquaintance is the father of two fine boys. These boys are hard workers, but they are unconverted. Consequently, they party hard and play hard. That pastor had come to faith later in life, and his sons had grown up in a home where they received no training in righteousness. After their father was saved, he pleaded with his sons to believe the Word, to trust Christ as Saviour, but his pleas were of no avail; his sons continued to live as they were raised. Today, they are nice men, and I do not doubt that in the eyes of most people they are good citizens, but they are truly children of this world. If the Word of the Living God is true, and it is, and if they fail to submit to Christ as Master over life, these two fine men are now eternally condemned to a godless eternity. They are responsible for their own choices, but it is obvious to each sentient individual that the training they received during their formative years—training that failed to point them to Christ—set them on the path they now walk.

While each message I present is critical, I consider this particular message as especially vital for the health of our families. To be certain, I feel the weight of responsibility before the Lord to provide sound instruction for all who share our services. However, I confess that I feel the weight of responsibility imposed as a pastor for the flock in presenting this message.

We watched demonstrations that have escalated to violent riots as they tore American cities throughout this past year. Those demonstrations expanded to Australia, Great Britain and even into communities here in northern Canada. Those demonstrating demanded that specific code words had to be mouthed, and obeisance to “the cause” was demanded. Failure to do so would mean severe opposition from the “peaceful” protestors.

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