Some of our favorite television shows of all time are about families. Did you watch Father Knows Best? Leave it to Beaver? The Brady Bunch? When Michelle and I were young parents, we loved Parenthood about the Braverman family, led by parents Zeke and Camille and their four adult children and many grandkids, who all lived in Berkeley, CA. More recently we watched Modern Family about Jay Pritchett, his second wife, Gloria, his two adult children from his first marriage, and their diverse families living in suburban Los Angeles. There are plenty of other films, shows, and books about families. Family is the basic unit of human life.
We often hear that the reason why we have societal problems is the breakdown of the family. And while there is not one reason for the problems in society, I think most sociologists and anthropologists would agree that the breakdown of the family is a contributor, perhaps even the major contributor. Think about your own family. How healthy or unhealthy was your family growing up? Or still today? Do you have any broken relationships in your family?
One phrase we sometimes hear in relationship to families is, “the black sheep of the family”. Usually that refers to someone who for one reason or another doesn’t seem to fit in the family quite the same as other members of the family. Does your family have a person like that? Is it you? Or are there people who are not on talking terms right now? Or have you heard, “You’re no longer in the will!” My father-in-law loves to say that all the time, jokingly of course, and we just say, “Fine by me! We don’t want to be in your will, so we don’t have to sort through all your junk when you pass away.” But sometimes threats about money and inheritance are thrown around in families, like blackmail.
I don’t believe it is possible to overstate the impact that families have on us. So what does the Bible have to say about healthy family relationships?
Last week we started a five-week topical sermon series about relationships. We’re studying relationships as a natural outflow of our previous sermon series about the Fruit of the Spirit. The Fruit of the Spirit is nine qualities that are best applied to our relationships with others. Last week we looked at what it means to have a vibrant relationship with God. I mentioned the premarital counseling workbook that Michelle and I sometimes use that asks the question, “How will the presence of Jesus affect your marriage relationship?” The authors ask that question because they rightly believe that our relationship with God is foundational to everything in our lives. When we are nurturing and growing a thriving relationship with God, we will have his resources in our lives for growing thriving relationships within our families, churches, communities, and world.
How so? Because, as we learned last week, and in the previous sermon series on the Fruit of the Spirit, God the Spirit lives in us. When we walk in step with the Spirit, he grows his fruit in our lives. Remember the nine qualities that together are the fruit of the Spirit? The kids in our children’s ministry made awesome posters with one of those qualities on each poster and we displayed them on the walls of our church sanctuary during that sermon series. I wonder if, without Googling it or looking it up in the Bible, can you say all nine from memory?
Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-control
What I will attempt to answer this week is: How might the Fruit of the Spirit impact our family relationships to help us have thriving family relationships? Let’s begin where a family begins. Earlier this week, my wife, Michelle, and I had the privilege of witnessing a new family begin. For the previous year, we met with a young man in our congregation, and his fiance, for premarital counseling. Then I officiated the wedding ceremony. As you might expect, in that wedding ceremony, there were “I dos” and vows and rings, and a kiss, and finally a declaration of marriage: “By the authority vested in me, I pronounce you husband and wife.” At that moment a new family begins!
How can a husband and wife have a healthy marriage? We’ll talk about that in tomorrow’s post!
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash