Fundamentals of Family Life 3/26/00

Colossians 3:18-21

JESUS CHRIST was a living embodiment of love. His message was one of love.

As an example of a loving child, He grew up in Nazareth in a well-structured, Jewish family. He is described as growing in “wisdom and statue and in favor with God and man.” He was a responsible, functioning-member of a family unit. His relationship with Joseph, His earthly father, must have been rewarding in that He chose the term “Father” to teach of God the Father.

His love for His mother was manifested in respect and deep regard as seen by His efforts to provide for her even from the cross.

He loved little children and exhorted the disciples to go to all extremes to let them come to Him.

The family was the basic unit of the society in which He grew up. Today the family is still a basic unit of society. Because this basic unit is deteriorating so rapidly, our society is beginning to evidence it is coming unraveled around the edges.

The American family today is in a perilous state. For that reason I want to share practical insights regarding the ABC’s of Family Living with the prayer each member of every family will recognize their role and resolve to fulfill their responsibilities.

An indication of what is going on in homes today was revealed by an extensive study recently published entitled “Young Adolescents and Their Parents.” This nation-wide study involved 8,000 fifth to ninth graders. 97% of these were church families.

* Only 22% of the children said there was lots of love in their family. Affection from the father, verbal and physical, dropped 50% from the fifth to ninth grade.

* Over half of the children said they would like to talk with their parents more.

* 46% of ninth graders said God and the Bible were never discussed at home.

* Attitudes toward church became less favorable the higher the grade in school.

* Peer pressure was shown to grow with age, but it never exceeds parental influence.

America has marveled to see the precision of weapons in warfare known as “smart bombs.” Many of them are manufactured by Raytheon Corporation. Their company slogan is “Excellence begins with fundamentals.”

There are certain fundamentals that work in marriage family life.

Now consider these Fundamentals of Family Life.


God intends that in everything there should be order. The only option to order is anarchy. That is the lifestyle for many families. There has been a complete breakdown in order within the family.

The emergence of the Christian ethic in the First Century brought a new concept of relationships which we seem to have forgotten. Under Greek, Roman, and Jewish law all OBLIGATIONS belonged to women and children. All PRIVILEGES belonged to the man. The Christian concept changed this to one of SHARED


A. THE ADULT MALE, that is, the husband and/or father is to love his wife. The Greek word used is AGAPATE. It does not suggest romantic affection. It means caring love which deliberately concerns itself with the well-being of the wife.

This positive encouragement is followed with a negative warning, “Do not be bitter toward them.” This means don’t be harsh, irritable, surly, or cross with them. The ancient word “husband” actually meant “house-band.” He is God’s agent to help hold the family together.

He is also to avoid provoking his children and discouraging them. Literally, this means don’t embitter the child. It means don’t challenge the child to resist by unreasonable exercise of authority.

Firm discipline may sometimes be necessary, but it should always be administered with the right spirit. Don’t rouse them to resentment by constantly finding fault and nagging. Don’t cause them to become listless, moody, and sullen because they feel they can never please. Don’t cause them to lose heart.

This can be done by:

* Too many restrictions (Children need liberties as well as limitations.

* Being impossible to please.

* Being unforgiving.

* Making hasty or false accusations.

* Making unfeeling requirements.

Husbands, here are secrets regarding your wife. This is for men only. Women, please don’t listen. …..That’s a sure way to get their attention. Men, here are four things your wife wants, needs, and deserves.

TIME: Time is the currency of relationships. When a man neglects spending time with his wife or children it sends a message that they aren’t important. Providing time to be together says “You are important.”

TALK: This goes beyond shallow talk and involves expressing inner feelings.

TENDERNESS: Nothing feeds the soul of a woman like knowing she is cherished. Tender affection communicates that nourishment.

TOUCH: Nonsexual affectionate hugs, kisses, hand-holding is crucial.

B. THE ADULT FEMALE, that is, wife and or mother is addressed. The wife is to be “submissive.” This means when there is a decision or circumstance where one has to forego their authority it is the wife. Note these things:

1. Her submission is prompted and earned by the husband’s unselfish love.

2. The verb used is middle voice meaning her submission should be voluntary. Thus, it is clear the husband should not demand but earn it.

3. This is “well pleasing to the Lord.” OK, ladies it is your turn to listen and fellows you tune out. Hopefully most didn’t when the topic of what a wife wants was noted. Here are things that can help a husband have a sense of significance.

BE HIS CHEERLEADER Husbands want the approval of their wives. Complaints and criticism strike at the core of who he is. They are at times necessary but should be shared privately whereas praise is well given publically. It builds him up.

BE HIS CHAMPION Men thrive on the respect given them.

BE HIS COMPANION A man wants his wife to be his friend. If she refuses to share in the things that are important to him he soon gives up sharing with her.

BE HIS COMPLEMENT This includes helping him become the man God intends him to be. That does not mean she is to be his personal in-home preacher, however.

Husbands and wives hear this. Studies by the University of Washington psychologist, Dr. John Gottman, reveal the four major marriage destroyers. They are: CRITICISM, CONTEMPT, DEFENSIVENESS, STONEWALLING.

C. THE CHILD is to “obey” the parents. The Greek word implies a willingness to hear and carry out instruction. The verb is present tense meaning this should be done consistently. The expression “in all things” must be understood in the context that this is a Christian family and what is required is “pleasing to the Lord” (Vs. 20). Therefore, children if you have Christian parents who are fulfilling their responsibilities toward you, you are pleasing the Lord when you obey them. Consequently think of yourself as pleasing the Lord when obeying your parents.


A family should be an adventurous group of explorers. Parents are in an ideal position to help their young develop an understanding and appreciation for their world and all that is in it. This sense of adventure should not only relate to the physical world but the world of values also.

When a parent holds a new born child they can look into that little face and realize, “I am holding a candidate for a personality.” You have the challenge of molding that personality. That child is a candidate for heaven and the parent has the blessed joy of helping the child grow in grace and knowledge. Studies show that children who are led to the Lord by their parents later have less doubt about their salvation than other children.

A child asked his parent two questions, “Dad, what is a Christian?” After a lengthy explanation, the child posed the second question, “Dad, have I ever seen a Christian?” Show the way. Be a pattern.

Do things together. Often dad comes in to leave his golf clubs and pick up his bowling ball. This leaves a child wondering, “Mom, who is that man that comes in here and kisses you and spanks me?”

A sense of belonging to a family is one of the best stabilizing factors for children. Those who feel they belong to a family know their conduct represents the entire family. What they do for good or bad reflects on the family. If they are loved in that family and love that family, they don’t want to do things that will reflect unfavorably on the family.

Years ago a Jewish philosopher named Martin Buber wrote a book on interpersonal relations. His thesis was there are two kinds of relations. One he called the “I and it” relationship. It is the relationship we have with things or inanimate objects such as cars, houses, and clothes. The second is an “I and thou” relationship. This relationship is one in which people become ends in themselves not means to someone else’s end. There is a breakdown when a “thou” is treated like an “it.” When this happens, we stop trying to motivate and start to manipulate.

Dr. Ernest Gordon, Dean of Chapel at Princeton University ended one of his books: “In the wild seas of violence that characterize our time we are in deepest need of islands of sanity, or harbors of humanity, in which the art of being human may be learned.”

Parents often speak of wanting to instill principles. There must be a gift of PRESENCE before there can be a gift of PRINCIPLES.

Lessons are more easily caught than taught.

Presence says, “I need you, we belong together.”

Presence says, “I care, we need to be together.”


We should relate to one another as the Father relates to us. That means we should – – –

A. Pay attention. Many family members are hardly aware of the other’s presence. Our Heavenly Father has time for us. The Scripture says, “…the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers…” (I Peter 3:12).

B. Be warm and supportive. God the Father demonstrates His love: “He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: He shall gather the lambs with his arms, and carry them in His bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young” (Isa. 40:11).

C. Inevitably there is the need for correction and discipline. This must always be done compassionately and under control. Our Heavenly Father disciplines: “My son despise not the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of Him: for whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives” (Hebrews 12:5,6).

D. Be available to talk and give guidance when needed. Our Heavenly Father has said, “I will instruct…and…counsel you and watch over you” (Ps. 32:8).