In the first three chapters of Ephesians, Paul stressed that God’s eternal purpose was to create us to be a people who would be “to the praise of his glory” (1:6, 11, 14). Paul introduced the last section of his letter with the words, “Walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called.” Chapters 4-6 are a description of that “worthy walk.”
Our “walk” has more to do with what goes on outside our worship assemblies than what goes on inside. In fact, from 5:22 – 6:4, Paul’s concern is that we are to the praise of God’s glory in our marriages and in our family life. Families have an incredible impact on the health of a local church and on its evangelistic success and culture. This becomes painfully obvious when families are not acting in a way that reflects God’s purpose. For example, a troubled marriage can bring the work of a local church to a standstill as elders and others must turn their attention to a divided couple. Equally disruptive is a son or daughter who is involved in immorality, is rebellious, or just plain carnal.
Imagine deciding you will only change your car’s oil every 25,000 miles because you don’t want to spend $25 every 5,000 miles. The result will be serious car trouble that will cost thousands of dollars. In the same way the best fix for marriage and children troubles is to follow healthy patterns that limit the possibility of future problems. Most importantly, these healthy patterns enable us to reflect God and walk worthy of our calling. Unfortunately, a significant percentage of families within local churches are failing their calling, setting themselves up for future pain, and in so doing, causing God’s name to be blasphemed.
10 Family Principles that Will Honor God
- Be googlie-eyed, crazy in love with your spouse. Don’t settle for a simple “partner” marriage; have a perpetual love affair. This will only happen with an investment of time and attention to one another. Husbands, romance your wives. Do the little things that keep telling her you are thinking of her and in love with her. Wives, keep flirting with your man. Make him feel loved and desired; keep the spark in your relationship. Remember, the most important thing you can do for your children is to be madly in love with each other.
- Make sure God and his word are your passion and at the center of marriage. Are you learning about God together? Do you have regular discussions about the scriptures and spiritual things? Do you pray together? The psalmist said, “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it” (Psalm 127:1).
- Recognize that maturity, not happiness, is the primary goal for your children. The words, “train up a child” (Prov. 22:6) and “bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4), have to do with bringing a child to maturity. Parental decisions are too often based on what will make a child happy instead of what will bring them to maturity. We teach our children maturity when we instill in them the ability to say “no” to themselves and make God their number one passion.
- Practice family Bible studies and devotions. Follow the pattern of Deut. 6:7. Teach God’s word diligently to your children and talk about his word when you rise up, when you lie down, when you walk by the way, and when you sit in your house. Tell your children the great stories of the Bible. Do so with the passion and excitement God’s word deserves and show them that you truly love God.
- Spend a lot of time loving on your children, talking to them, and listening to them. Make sure you have connected your heart to your child’s heart and your child’s heart to your heart. Show them what it means to have both your hearts connected to God. God’s restoration mission for John the baptizer was that he “turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers” (Mal. 4:6).
- Be consistent in your discipline and avoid discipline that comes from frustration and anger. Few things exasperate and stir a parent to anger faster than telling a child the same thing two, three, and four times. Parents typically train their children to disobey by waiting for the third and fourth admonition before administering discipline. This also leads to parental outbursts and overly harsh punishment. Instead, calmly administer discipline the first time a command is violated or delayed. The child will be happier and so will you. A child who does not learn that “every transgression received a just recompense” (Heb. 2:2), is doomed to become irresponsible and think he or she can get away with sin.
- Do not allow your children to become self–indulged. Be conservative in the amount of material possessions they are allowed to have and the time spent in secular activities. In Deut. 8:2-3, God purposely restricted the amount and kind of food he gave Israel in the wilderness so that they would learn that “man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Father.” “Have you found honey? Eat only so much as you need, lest you be filled with it and vomit” (Prov. 25:16). In our affluence, we need to be careful that we do not send the message to our children that more is the way to fulfillment and joy. Abundance can turn our hearts and their hearts away from true food and true drink (Isa. 55:1-3).
- Do not be afraid to say “no” and don’t fall prey to their whining. God condemned Eli because his sons “made themselves vile, and he did not restrain them.” Especially when a child becomes a teen and begins to exert his or her will, parents tend to cower not willing to endure confrontation. Some children are experts in wearing us down. Be able to say “no” and teach your child that once you say “no,” that is the end of the discussion or punishment will follow.
- Teach them that the way they dress is critical to professing godliness. Dressing in the style of the day while remaining modest is a huge challenge for our young people. But it is critical that we do not allow our daughters to be carried away with the carnal exhibitions of short shorts, short skirts, tight low-cut tops. We must also keep our boys from dressing in a way that causes people to question their sexuality.
10. Train their minds and consciences to be more concerned about what God thinks than what you think. Paul said we are to bring our children up in the “training and instruction of the Lord.” Our goal is to create in our children their own faith with an intrinsic motivation to serve the Lord whether we are watching or not. Training their conscience with boundaries and guidelines based in scripture is better than a multitude parental rules.