By Paul Miller
July 1, 2013
With so many modern families affected by divorce, unhealthy marriages and relationships, it is good to look again briefly at the Biblical model of a family. Due to our sinful natures, we still have disagreements and we still get irritated and even angry at times, but our goal ought to be to become more like Jesus every day-leaving the sin behind and becoming a loving, forgiving, happy, healthy, godly family.
Let us look first at the husband/wife relationship. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church (Ephesians 5:25-29). Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them (Colossians 3:19).
What a great responsibility is given to the husband! The husband is to love his wife as much as Jesus loves His church. How much does Jesus love His church, His bride? Jesus cares for her, nourishes her, loves her, helps her, encourages her, protects her, and certainly would never treat her in a mean way. He is patient, loving, kind, honorable, sacrificial, and wonderful toward His bride. He would never hurt her. He would never ridicule her or speak in a way that would hurt her feelings. In fact, we know that Jesus loved His bride so much that He gave His own life for her. What a joy it will be for Jesus to present the church, His bride, to His Father. He loves her. He adores her. He is proud of her and is looking forward to presenting her to God. How much then should we love our wives? We should protect help, encourage, love patiently, understand, and adore her-treating her as a queen, boasting of her, thanking God for her, gladly introducing her to others as the wonderful bride given to us as a gift from God!
Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord (Colossians 3:18). Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the Saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything (Ephesians 5:22-24). What an honor it is for the bride of Christ to submit to Jesus! How happy we ought to be to have been chosen by the Savior who loves, protects, nourishes, encourages, and cares for us. What a joy it is to be his bride. This is how it ought to be with husbands and wives. If the husband loved his wife as Christ loved His church, what an honor it would be for the wife to be his. Jesus does not treat us as slaves, and husbands should certainly not treat their wives in such a way.
Often men try to justify their anger, abuse, or neglect of their wives because she is not all that he wants her to be or she does not do all that he expects her to do. (He does this without recognizing his own faults, shortcomings and sins, however). What does the Bible say? Jesus loves us despite our sins and shortcomings. We would not like it if Jesus mocked us or beat us or got angry at us every time we messed up. Husbands, too, ought to love their wives unconditionally, as Jesus loves His bride. May all husbands who treat their wives poorly, hurt them, or ridicule them repent of their sin. May they seek forgiveness from God, their wives, and even their children, and become men of God, following the example of Jesus. How great it would be for husbands to help their wives do their work at times rather than get angry at the wives for not getting all the work done.
Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise; that it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:1-4). Certainly children ought to honor and obey their parents. Children ought to respect them and love them. Children should not talk back or rebel against their parents. Again, think of a Christian's relationship with his or her heavenly Father. The more a parent has Christ-like qualities, the easier it is for a child to obey these Scriptures, for the obedience would be out of love rather than out of mere obligation. May parents, especially fathers, never give a reason for their children to turn from God. May parents be godly examples to their children. When a parent loses his temper, it is refreshing and healing to see the parent humble himself and ask forgiveness from the child who was hurt.
Perhaps that is why the Scriptures specifically tell fathers not to provoke their children to wrath, but to bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Fathers-are you bringing up your children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord? I do not mean by having strict rules and harsh discipline and language, for that is not how God is with us. Rather, I mean fathers being an example of love and forgiveness and patience, leading the family in knowing and following God. When was the last time you fathers ever told your wife or your children that you loved them? When was the last time you asked them for forgiveness for your anger or your abuse or your impatience?
It is sad to hear stories of fathers hurting their children. God certainly does not like this either. And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea (Mark 9:42). God loves children. During His time on earth, Jesus often showed how much He loves children. He warns us against hurting them. How could a father purposefully hurt or abuse his children or wife? How could a brother abuse his sister? Let us turn from our sins. Let us no longer try to hide our evil, but let us confess our sins to God and seek His help and forgiveness. Let us repent from the hurt we have caused others-especially those in our own families. Let us seek forgiveness from God and from our family members, crying out to God to forgive us and to change our sinful hearts. Jesus taught us of the new birth by which our hearts are made new. Let us cry out to God until we are made new in Jesus and set free from self and sin-not by religion and laws, but by the grace of God, faith in Jesus, and the life-changing power of God's Holy Spirit! Let us be families that demonstrate God's love! -End
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