Summary: Families are gifts from God and our primary fields of ministry.
MAKING SOUND INVESTMENTS FOR THE NEW YEAR
JANUARY 23, 2005
Ephesians 5:21-6:4 “Your Family—Investing In Growth”
Some of the most important investments we make are in our families and other relationships. The potential of effects of our family investments truly make them investments for growth.
The text to highlight family is a controversial one. For centuries it has wrongly been used to subjugate women and children and propagate a male dominated society at the expense of strong family life and relationships.
Though the hierarchy advanced by Paul no longer fits today’s family, in its many forms, Paul’s words do contain several characteristics that are important for both family life and our lives as Christians.
Paul’s words for women to submit and serve their husbands and families, remind us that service is a key characteristic of our lives a God’s people and members of the body of Christ.
Jesus, of course, is our model when we talk about submission and service. He submitted to the will of God the Father and endured the cross (Luke 22:39-46). During his ministry, Jesus stated that he had come to serve and not to be served (Matthew 20:28). Jesus also called his followers to follow his example of service. He challenged his followers to serve the people around them, their neighbors, and elevated that service to serving God (Matthew 25:40).
Many times it is difficult to see dinner preparation, chauffeur service, bedtime stories, and homework help as God pleasing service, but it is. These actions and others like them are investments in our families the bear rich returns.
Nurturing our relationships with friends, neighbors and co-workers also involves service. Cheerful smiles, listening ears, helping hands, and feet that go the extra mile reflect the love and presence of a caring God and the good news of Jesus Christ.
Service as unglamorous, unappreciated and at times unnoticed is vital to families and friendships.
Love is a second piece of investment capital that Paul encourages us to put into our families and friendships. He instructs the men to love their wives as Christ has love the church.
Certainly love is connected with our service. Grudging service does not have the life transforming power that loving service does. Love is a dynamic motivator for service.
Love causes us to be a part of the lives of other people for their benefit; so that they can and will be all that God wants them to be, and equips them to be.
Love, if it is to reflect God’s love for us, needs to be steadfast, unconditional love. There is nothing that can change God’s decision to love us, and that should be the bottom line in all families and relationships.
Paul tells the children to whom he is writing to obey their parents. Obedience is a necessary part of any family and of any friendship. Obedience is necessary not only for children, but in these days of shared leadership, it is necessary for wives, husbands and sometimes parents.
Obedience addresses our relationships with authorities. Parents need to reflect on how they model obedience to their children. Are they always bucking the system? Do they see how much they can get away with? Obedience involves willingly submitting to authorities and the laws they set.
Obedience also works with ethics and conducting ourselves within the confines of the law. In a society where the end often justifies the means, ethical people are in short supply. Still ethical behavior is needed. It is at the core of our families, and it is foundational to our friendships.
Paul’s final exhortation deals with power. He advises fathers not to provoke their children to anger—wise advice.
Power is an addictive substance. The saying is true that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. We like power—in our lives and over the lives of others. It is very tempting to use our power in controlling manner with other people. When we do this, we do not reflect God in our lives.
We know what buttons we can push to set off our children, our spouse and our friends. Sometimes we use this power in a playful manner to “get their goats.” Most of the time, however, it is a misuse of power. We do it to provoke anger.
Power is a precious gift that Paul encourages his reads to use for the benefit of others and not for their own benefit. Using power wisely is a strong investment in families and friendships.
Families and friendships can easily be taken for granted in our hectic lives. Paul reminds us of the essential elements that make strong families and friendships and encourages us to intentionally invest these elements in the lives of the people with whom we are blessed—and look forward to great returns on our investment.