Summary: God has a plan for our family relationships. Let’s discover God’s plan using the acrostic F.A.M.I.L.Y.

An old saying that hold a lot of truth goes: “You can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family.” God gave you your parents–your brothers or sisters; God gave you your children, and God has no exchange policy. Your family is yours for life.

God has created or designed man to share in intimate and loving relationships with one another. Remember the events describing the creation of woman in Genesis chapter 2.

✞ Genesis 2:18 The Lord God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him."

God was and still remains man’s perfect helper. But God and man are not suitable for each other; that is God and man are different; God knew that man would need a companion tailor-made for him.

✞ Genesis 2:20-22 But for Adam no suitable helper was found. [this was NOT GOOD.] So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had take out of the man, and He brought her to the man.

The woman is made for man and man for the woman. Within woman man found a counterpart of himself bearing his resemblance. Throughout all of creation nothing else can take the place of woman for the man; she is the suitable helper made for man.

✞ Genesis 2:23-24 The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman’ for she was taken out of man.” For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.

Adam recognized the special place woman had for man; she was a special gift from God. In all of creation none other could be found to take her place; she is made uniquely for man. That is still true today.

Men and women try to satisfy their longing for intimate loving relationships in many different ways today, but it is within the marriage relationship that the ultimate fulfilment is found. Sexual relationships and fantasies outside of marriage will leave the individual broken, and looking for more. Homosexual relationships are a perversion of God’s perfect design; homosexuality is not a disorder; it is not the way someone was born; it is a sin. Only within marriage can a man and woman be truly satisfied.

✞ Genesis 2:25 The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.

Man and woman were together in perfect harmony. You have heard the story when Eve asked Adam if he would marry her again, and Adam responds, “Who else?” Rather than thinking negatively, we should see that Adam knew Eve was made to be his perfect companion.

Family relationships are at the center of all human relationships. The place where each of us begin to learn about how relationships work is within the family. Paul addressed these foundational relationships in Ephesians 5 & 6, and Colossians 3.

✞ Colossians 3:18-21 Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them. Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.

In four simple statements Paul shows us God plan for family relationships; four guidelines to make your family successful. But can we tell the truth in church this morning? Families in America today are failing; they are falling apart left and right. And many of those that are still together are less than ideal. We have a problem with our families. It’s the same problem we talked about last week which keeps us from enjoying relationships as God designed.

The problem is sin; God’s image within us has been distorted. Until we deal with the sin problem; we can’t expect much better than fractured relationships held together by duct tape. That’s even true for so called “Christian families.”

So how can we improve our family relationships; how can we place God’s design for health relationships back in our families?

Last wee we saw that Jesus is our example: John 13:15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.

1 Corinthians 11:1 Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ From Christ’s example we saw that Jesus could show us how to be the perfect F.R.I.E.N.D. Six basic relational skills that will improve our relationships. These include:

[F] A friend is Forgiving: Jesus purpose was to restore broken relationships; He lived out 1 Corinthians 13, “Love keeps no record of wrongs.”

[R] A friend is Real: Jesus did not compromise who he was; He was a friend of sinners accepting people right were they were.

[I] A friend Imparts Truth: Jesus would not just leave an individual where they were; Jesus spoke the truth in love.

[E] A friend is Embracing: Jesus did not keep His love to Himself; rather He reached out to people with loving touches.

[N] A friend is Not Selfish: Jesus put our need ahead of His comfort; He willingly became a man; a servant obedient unto death.

[D] A friend is Dedicated: Jesus did not give up on people; He remained faithful right through the very end.

If then we want to improve our family relationships as Paul outlined in Colossians 3:18-21, we all need to apply these same principles to our family relationships-–husbands and wives; parents and children. To help us do this, we are going to mix up these six principles of F.R.I.E.N.D. a little and restate them for the F.A.M.I.L.Y.

Family relationships are [F] Forgiving.

The guidelines Paul gives for family relationships won’t work if we are going to carry around resentment and hard feelings towards your family members. Wives, don’t worry about submitting to your husbands– not until you can forgive them first. Dads don’t concern yourself with not being harsh to your wives and children–that is not until you can forgive them. Children don’t go overboard on trying to obey your parents–start with forgiveness. Only as our love finds expression through forgiveness do we then create an environment in which it is safe for family members to respect each other.

Why is it that the words, “I’m sorry,” and “I forgive you” can be so hard to say? Maybe it’s because we don’t want to humble ourselves and put others ahead of ourselves–even in our family.

✞ Matthew 6:14-15 For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

How many of us want God to forgive us of our sin–probably all of us. Then if you want God’s forgiveness you must be a forgiving person. “But pastor, you don’t know what my husband [or my wife] did to me.” I don’t need to know, but you need to forgive him/her.

Or, “pastor, you don’t know how badly I was hurt by my parents; it wasn’t just once, but it happened again and again.” I don’t have to know about your childhood to know that your still have to forgive.

Or, “pastor, you don’t know what my child has done. They have disgraced me; I never brought them up to live like that.” You’re right I may not know, but I know you must forgive. It’s not a matter of what I think, but it’s what God says; if you want to be forgiven, then you must forgive–no matter who; no matter what.

Family relationships are [A] Authentic.

No one knows you better than your mom. You can fool some of the people some of the time, and some other people can be fooled all of the time, but you can’t fool mom!

Very little can be hidden within the family for too long– husbands and wives will discover the truth about each other; parents will find what children are hiding; and children will know when mom and dad are being hypocrites. It’s true not only for the sin we may try to hide, but it’s also true for who we really are on the inside. Our hearts–our real identity will be uncovered within our family.

What better place to learn how to be real. We don’t have to hide who we are and we can learn to accept each other in spite of our differences. That’s how relationships grow deep when they are authentic or real.

✞ Luke 8:17-18 For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open. Therefore consider carefully how you listen. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what he thinks he has will be taken from him."

Family relationships are [M] Magnetic.

What happens when you get two magnets close to each other? They are drawn together. Even when you put the same poles of magnets near each other their response will be to turn and join together.

Family relationships should naturally share loving touches. Husbands and wives, parents and children–even brothers and sisters, should be drawn into an embrace or a group hug!

✞ Ecclesiastes 3:5 . . .a time to embrace. . .

Family relationships [I] Impart knowledge/ Instruct.

God has given parents the responsibility to teach their children.

✞ Deuteronomy 6:6-9 These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

It is not the responsibility of the schools to teach our children academically or morally. Nor is it the churches job to teach our children about God. Important lessons are caught not taught.

✞ Proverbs 6:20-23 My son, keep your father’s commands and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. Bind them upon your heart forever; fasten them around your neck. When you walk, they will guide you; when you sleep, they will watch over you; when you awake, they will speak to you. For these commands are a lamp, this teaching is a light, and the corrections of discipline are the way to life.

✞ Proverbs 22:6 Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.

Family relationships are [L] Loyal to the end.

Family relationships should be bound together with super glue–unbreakable! Parents should model a relationship that is constant and steadfast before their children; divorce and separation should not be a child’s fear. Faithfulness is learned at home.

✞ 1 Timothy 5:9-10 No widow may be put on the list of widows unless she is over sixty, has been faithful to her husband, and is well known for her good deeds, such as bringing up children, showing hospitality, washing the feet of the saints, helping those in trouble and devoting herself to all kinds of good deeds.

More importantly than extending care to widows, Paul teaches us that the life of the believer–both men and women– should be marked by faithfulness. They keep their promises, and are true to their word. A believer doesn’t waver in his/her marriage commitment. Our word is dependable–in all areas of life.

Family relationships [Y] Yield to one another.

Look again at the guidelines Paul gives in Colossians 4. . . .

The central key to each of these rules for the family is that no one is trying to be number one. Selfishness is replaced with humility. We learn within the family to put others first.

✞ Mark 9:35 Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, "If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all."

God designed our relationships; He designed the family. May He enable us to relate to our husbands, wives and children as He has planned.