Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Spirit-filled family-life

Colossians 3:18-22  "Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. 19 Husbands, love your wives and do not be embittered against them. 20 Children, be obedient to your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing to the Lord. 21 Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart."

Today's posts features an explanation of Spirit-filled family-life. Yesterday we considered Spirit-filled church-life. Paul's exposition of the Spirit-filled life in Ephesians 5:18-6:18 entails unfolding the consequences that should follow from the filling of the Holy Spirit. To the degree individual Christian church members give themselves over to the Spirit's influence will determine how Jesus-saturated they are. The same can be said of families. Moreover, since families make up local churches, it follows that Spirit-filled family life would be the next topic of discussion. Today's post wants to detail what a Spirit-filled family life can look like as described by other scriptures. Notice....

1. Spirit-filled marriages will more clearly picture Jesus and His church
Paul expounds on how the Christian husband and wife relationship resembles what we see between Christ and the church. However, such a reality is not only pictorial, but powerfully experienced on a greater level as the husband and wife give themselves to the Lord and thus one another. Notice Ephesians 5:32-33 "This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband." When a husband is taking seriously his role as the spiritual leader in the home, he will find himself loving his wife in a Christ-like manner. Four times in Ephesians 5:22-33 the husband is commanded to love his wife as Christ loves the church. What happens when the wife is not loved nor treated in the proper way by the husband? 1 Peter 3:7 spells it out - "You husbands in the same way, live withyour wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered." Husbands need to make sure they are not bitter against their wives (Colossians 3:19). How can these commands be carried out? Only one way - the Spirit-filled life. 

In like manner, the wife needs to respect her husband and follow his leadership as long as it doesn't conflict with her devotion to the Lord (Colossians 3:18; Ephesians 5:22). Submissiveness is another way of saying humility, the chiefest Christ-like attribute (see Philippians 2:1-4). Again, how can the wife be this way to her husband? Only one way - the Spirit-filled life. When both the husband and the wife are drawing closer to the Lord, they will inevitably draw closer to one another. Spirit-filled marriages are the only marriages that can most clearly look like Jesus and His church. Notice a second trait of Spirit-filled family-life...

2. The Spirit's desire to work in our children's lives. Ephesians 6:1-4
Throughout the scripture were examples of children being used by God and being led by the Holy Spirit. Joseph for example, despite his initial arrogance, was a believer who was humbled by God and led by the Spirit, gifted to interpret dreams (see Genesis 37-50). Or how about the boy-king Josiah who at the tender age of 8 became king over Jerusalem and Judah in 2 Kings 22? He walked in the ways of the Lord and never turned from the right nor the left. Certainly John the Baptist illustrates a child who perated under the auspices of the Holy Spirit (albeit in a unique but nonetheless real way). 

Little Rhoda, the servant girl who answered the door at a prayer meeting for the Apostle Peter who had miraculously escaped from prison, is a child I would characterized as Spirit-led in Acts 12:12-15. Was it that the other church members in attendance weren't? Not necessarily. What tells us that Rhoda was filled with the Holy Spirit? Consider the following observations. First, her faith. Rhoda's unusual certainty of the man knocking on the door as being Peter in the face of doubts clues us in on Rhoda's spiritual condition. Second, her perception. She operated more by what she could not see than what she could see (compare 2 Corinthians 5:7). Third, her joy. Rhoda also had an unwavering joy that compelled her to go tell the praying church members that it was indeed Peter (compare Galatians 5:22). Faith, perception and joy marked Rhoda's motives, all of which correspond to someone filled with the Holy Spirit - and a child no less!

Now when we consider the instruction for children to obey their parents, the obedience being called for here is not only a dutiful response to parental authority. This manner of obedience entails submission and yieldedness on the part of the child. As children grow older, the pattern of obedience will be challenged. 

Parents being led by the Holy Spirit will discover very quickly how relevant the Spirit's filling ministry truly is! The temptation can come for a parent to "frustrate their child". How? When we as parents operate more by our own understanding than by the Spirit, we will operate in extremes. The flesh always operates in extremes. Hence, some parents will be overly strict - leading to the breaking of the child's spirit, and not just their will. In the other direction, parents can be overly-permissive, not setting booundaries. The problem can be when we are inconsistent - which can also provoke a child to wrath. I would add the pattern that is often-times demonstrated when a parent expects their child to go to church, and yet they themselves do not attend. Ought children be at church? Of course! But moreso the parents that make them go. 

Overtime, especially in the teenage years, the disparity between the child's regular attendance and the parent's lack thereof will lead to unnecessary frustration. We as parents set the bar before our children in the realm of moral and spiritual development. Parents may very well set the bar and the child still choose when their older to not continue in that wake. However, for parents who do not yield themselves to the Lord in His word and by His Spirit, the inconsistencies mentioned above and very quickly creep into the family-life. 

These are some of the thoughts that we can glean from this very important section in Ephesians 6:1-4 on Spirit-filled family life. 

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